NOTE: This is an update to our original story back in October

CJ Banks came to the DPCC for help, and after several meeting and phone calls, we were able to get the teacher to apologize in front of the classroom (on Oct 31). Something that Mr. Banks and his son did not feel like was going to be possible, and something the principal said she couldn’t force the teacher to do. Also the principal agreed to allow a Black community leader to come into the classroom to talk with the students and the teacher about the importance of protesting, and this protest in particular.

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”. The parents feel that this has created a very unhealthy school environment for the student.

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).

Prior to this event the district has already begun to roll out a cultural diversity professional development for every staff member. This shows great leadership and we hope that there will be a noticeable change in the understanding of our students after the training.