California students grades lowered for skipping pledge

0916-calif-pledgeLower Lake, Calif. (KPIX) — Leilani Thomas won’t say the Pledge of Allegiance to this Lower Lake High School American flag or any other American flag.

She is a Native American and argues the stars and stripes aren’t hers, “It’s the reason, because of the history that happened here. On my land. My people’s land. I go by that, and I don’t agree with it, so I’m not going to stand for the people who did this to my people.”

Since the first day of school, Thomas and her friend chose to exercise their rights as Americans not to recite the Pledge of allegiance in their first period class. Their teacher took exception to it. So when the girls got their grades Friday, their participation scores were docked from a five to a three, because they refused to stand, they say.

Thomas recorded her teacher’s explanation in class, “Here’s the deal with that. If you really, really, really, really, really have an argument and feel so strongly about, then I need to see it written out. Like, your argument in an essay form, like, why, why, why. Because here’s the real thing: those people, they’re not alive anymore, your ancestors.”

Thomas and her father took that recording to the administrators. The girls have since been moved to another teacher.

In the meantime, Thomas and her friend hope their stance serves as a real life lesson on free speech. “She says that it represents the military and that they risked their lives for us, and I always tell her, ‘well, my people risked our lives for our freedom, for our land, for our rights,'” said Thomas.

The district says it is dealing with the teacher. Because it’s a personnel matter, what consequences the teacher will face — if any — may not be made public.

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