Fatima Smart, a 14-year-old student at Monadnock Regional Middle School in Swanzey, New Hampshire, refused to stand for the Pledge of Allegiance during class. After the pledge was over, Smart’s teacher allegedly told her that if she wasn’t going to stand, she could leave.
Smart still refused, so she was kicked out of class and later lectured in front of the other students.
"She kind of used me as an example in front of the class to say that, 'You have to stand for the flag salute, or you can be like Fatima and wait outside,'" Smart said.
Smart explained she refused to stand on principle. "I don't like our government at all," she said. "I think they are making bad decisions, and I didn't stand.”
She added: "I don't like pretending to believe in something I don't believe in to please others… They have their rights, and I have mine."
Though it’s been two months since the incident, Smart’s family is waiting on an apology. New Hampshire law explicitly states that participation in the Pledge of Allegiance is voluntary. The Supreme Court is also on Smart’s side. “The Supreme Court ruling that states students cannot be forced to stand for the Pledge of Allegiance is over 70 years old and no public school in the country has the right to force a student to participate in it,” said American Civil Liberties Union attorney Lee Rowland.
"They intimidated and humiliated our daughter, and it's become a public spectacle because of their lack of humility to extend an apology," said her stepfather, Steve Boscarino.
Smart’s mother, Kerry Boscarino, told Yahoo Parenting that the attack seemed personal. “[The teacher] said that she was the daughter of a military man and found it offensive because of that. But I really don’t think that my daughter sitting for the pledge is an attack on the military in any way, shape, or form,” she said.
Superintendent Keith Pfeifer didn’t say that the school broke the law, but said staff members have been educated about the law and won’t comment further. He also contended that the family is wrong about the incident.
Smart’s mother said that if they don’t receive an apology soon, she might take the issue to court.