Anne Daigle-McDonald was suspended for five days by the Hernando County School District in Spring Hill, Fla. after she allegedly forced a fourth grade student to violate his religious beliefs by making him take part in the Pledge of Allegiance.
The unidentified boy's Jehovah’s Witness religion forbids him from worshiping objects, which includes pledging to an American flag (video below).
Normally, he just stood silently while other students recited the pledge, but that all changed on Sept. 11 of this year, reports Yahoo! News.
Daigle-McDonald reportedly forced the child's hand over his heart. However, the boy pulled his arm down and told her that he was a Jehovah's Witness.
The next day, the teacher allegedly did the same thing, said several of the students.
“You are an American, and you are supposed to salute the flag,” Daigle-McDonald is quoted as saying. “In my classroom, everyone will do the pledge. No religion says that you can’t do the pledge. If you can’t put your hand on your heart, then you need to move out of the country."
"But that’s not what I said," Daigle-McDonald told the Tampa Bay Times. "It was directed at citizenship. I was talking about pledging allegiance to our country, and if you don’t want to pledge to our country, you should go to your home country.”
Daigle-McDonald also claims she didn't know the boy was a Jehovah’s Witness, but added, "His mother told me that he didn't celebrate holidays or birthdays, and I told her that was fine."
“[I] just wanted all of the students to respect the day,” said Daigle-McDonald. “It wasn’t a holiday, so I didn’t see why the whole class couldn’t say the pledge.”
However, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 1943 that students could not be forced to salute the American flag or say the Pledge of Allegiance in a school. Ironically, that case was won by the Jehovah's Witnesses over the West Viginia Board of Education.