According to a school incident report, a teacher from Clovis East High School, in Clovis, California, told a student to “go back to your country,” because she did not stand for the pledge of allegiance.
Freshman Thailia Luna, a 14-year-old who was born in the U.S., said agriculture science teacher Ken Dias also stole her phone and insulted her after she refused to stand during the pledge on Wednesday, reported The Fresno Bee.
“He repeatedly told me I was a disgrace and continuously yelled at me across the classroom from his desk,” Luna stated in the report obtained by The Bee. “A student began to cry and asked him to stop and he told her to shut up.”
Luna, who is Hispanic and Laotian, said she refused to stand for the pledge because of race issues, similar to the NFL players who kneel during the national anthem.
“I know that racism is a big issue right now and that so many people are not being treated equally in a land of the ‘free’ … ,” Luna said Monday. “We want to be the change in how the world perceives us minorities. We are not too young to want to make a difference.”
Many Clovis East students used social media to support Luna.
Tiffany Trang, a senior at Clovis East, is calling for students to sit during the Pledge of Allegiance this week “to combat the issue of racism that clearly exists” throughout Clovis Unified.
Last Wednesday, Mr. Dias, an AG teacher @ East scolded a student for not standing during the Pledge of Allegiance then told the student to “go back to Mexico”. He was out Thurs & Fri, but is coming back to school on Tuesday.
— Tiffany T (@tiifft15) February 11, 2018
“I’m shocked that (Dias) still has a job to come back to. Numerous students at my school are speaking out about this,” said Trang, 18. “It’s so infuriating to know that one of our own teachers could say this to a fellow classmate. School is supposed to be a safe environment where students can come to gain an education and escape what’s going on in the real world. Time and time again, both staff and students have gotten away without any consequences despite their very inappropriate behaviors.”
Parents have called on Clovis Unified to address reports of racism on its campuses within recent months, according to The Bee:
Last week a mother of a Clovis East student told the school board that her son was called the N-word by another athlete, who she said was not properly punished. Last year, a leaked Snapchat conversation showed Clovis High students using racial slurs and referring to black people as their slaves.
Mandatory acts of patriotism have no place in government run schools, and the ACLU argues that forcing students to stand for the pledge is unconstitutional.
“Nearly 75 years ago, the Supreme Court rightly held that state schools have no business forcing students to stand for patriotic rituals. The court also reminded public school administrators that part of their job is to train students for participation in our free society. This principle holds no less true today, and no less true on the playing field than it does in the classroom,” said the ACLU.
Clovis Unified spokeswoman Kelly Avants said that students have the right to not stand during the Pledge of Allegiance. Teachers are “directed to remain neutral in their speech and behavior,” she said. This obviously did not happen in Luna’s case.