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Lawsuit Claims Vigo County Student Forced To Say Pledge

The parent of a Vigo County first grader is suing the child's teacher and principal because she says they forced him to say the Pledge of Allegiance.

The suit refers to the child as "A.B." The ACLU filed the suit Friday on behalf of the child's mother Jamie Porter. It names the principal of Fuqua Elementary, Mary Beth Harris, and first grade teacher Kelly McFarland as the defendants.

The suit accuses Harris and McFarland of violating "A.B.'s" First Amendment rights by forcing him to say the Pledge of Allegiance.

The alleged incident happened in March 2017.

The suit says McFarland removed the then 7-year-old A.B from class when he chose to remain seated during the Pledge. McFarland sent him to the Principal's office.

He sat in the principal's office for 20 minutes according to the suit, and when asked why he did not stand, replied that he was doing it to "protest the government of the United States" as it was "racist, greedy, and does not care about the people".

The suit alleges the first grader was later approached by Harris in front of the entire class and was pulled to another area of the school to "practice" the Pledge of Allegiance. His teacher made him recite the Pledge with her.

Porter says when she picked up her son after school he was crying. She talked to the school after the incident and later received an email from the Office of the Superintendent indicating that A.B would be able to sit silently during the Pledge in the future.

Indiana law provides that "the governing body of each school corporation shall provide a daily opportunity for students of the school corporation to voluntarily recite the Pledge of Allegiance in each classroom."

The law also provides that if the student chooses not to participate or the student's parent chooses to have the student not participate, the student is exempt from participation.

Jonathan Mayes, the school's district attorney, declined to answer any questions about the suit and said in a statement, "we have received the copy of the complaint and we are reviewing it".

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