On Oct 12th, 2017 an 11-year-old student at Southside Elementary chose to take a knee during the pledge of allegiance.

The student was made to stand up in front of the class and severely reprimanded and humiliated by his 2 teachers. The teachers started their verbal bullying by saying to the child that “you and those other football idiots are ignorant for doing this because you are disrespecting the flag and people who fought and died for our country”.

This has created a very unhealthy school environment for the student. From the other students telling him that he does not love America, to the assistant principal standing in the classroom each morning glaring at him during the pledge of allegiance. The parents are very concerned that this situation has become destructive to Aiden’s learning environment.

After several days of kneeling, and several meetings with the principal, counselors and teachers, the word came down from BPS that students did not have to stand for the pledge. And while that is a good step forward for the district, it does not rectify the situation for this student.

The parents are asking for:

1. An apology from the teacher in the front of the classroom, in the same fashion that the teacher berated the student.

2. A lesson on protests and the First Amendment be held in this class, giving this student agency in the shaping and facilitation of the discussion.

3. Some sort of cultural diversity training for the teachers, assistant principal and principal around this issue (led by someone who is Black and has an understanding of this issue).

New York State’s Dignity for All Students Act (The Dignity Act) seeks to provide the State’s public elementary and secondary school students with a safe and supportive environment free from discrimination, intimidation, taunting, harassment, and bullying on school property, a school bus and/or at a school function.

The mission of BPS is “Putting students and families first to ensure high academic achievement for all”. The mission is not, impose the political views of teachers on to students and trample their first amendment rights.