Dispute over Pledge of Allegiance pits high school student against teacher

EDWARDSVILLE, Ill. – A fight over standing and reciting the Pledge of Allegiance has pit a high school junior against her teacher. The classroom drama unfolded Tuesday at Edwardsville High School, with the question about the constitutional rights of students.

Student Sukayla Jones said she decided to no longer stand and recite the pledge when she turned 12.

“During the moment of silence, I don’t say anything. And when they say the pledge, I face my phone down and I’m quiet, and I don’t stand and I don’t say it,” Jones said.

Jones and her mother said the high school junior is being harassed by her English literature teacher.

Jones showed Fox 2 News a copy of the multiple choice test her teacher handed out Monday morning, asking students if they should refuse to stand for the pledge when a substitute teacher is present “…and then abruptly walk out of the classroom rather than take responsibility for your actions and simply discuss your choice in a mature manner.”

“I was, like, I know this is about me because no one else has done this before in his class,” Jones said. “I felt really disrespected and wrong for what I did.”

Jones’ mother, Susan Nicholson, believes the teacher was targeting her daughter.

“…You are targeting her and it's immature and disrespectful,” she said.

In most schools, the pledge of allegiance has been a tradition since it began on Columbus Day in 1892.

The Edwardsville School District released the following statement regarding its school policy:

“Edwardsville High School’s practice does not require students to stand when the pledge of allegiance is said as long as the student is not disrupting the class.”

The district also said the incident had been resolved between the student and parent. However, the family disagrees with the district and wants an apology from the teacher.

“(My daughter) is humiliated still. For us, the issue will not be resolved. The way she was publicly humiliated, she needs a public apology,” Nicholson said.

The Jones family is hoping the teacher will apologize and would like for all teachers in the district to be well informed of the district’s policies and procedures.

Notice: you are using an outdated browser. Microsoft does not recommend using IE as your default browser. Some features on this website, like video and images, might not work properly. For the best experience, please upgrade your browser.