In an open letter, Bossier Schools Superintendent Scott Smith, who oversees the district of 34 public school schools, demonstrates his gross misunderstanding of the reason National Football League players like Colin Kaepernick and others from other sports have chosen to "take a knee" in respectful protest.
Parkway High School has adopted a similar stance.
Coaches and principals will have sole discretion to dole out punishment to players who protest the national anthem at school-sanctioned sporting events, stated School Superintendent Scott Smith, chief of Bossier Parish School District in Benton, Louisiana, on Wednesday morning.
After more than 200 NFL players took a knee on Sunday during the national anthem to protest police brutality, public schools across the country have grappled with how to handle students who chose to protest in the same manner.
Several football players at a northwest Louisiana high school linked arms but remained standing as the national anthem played before their game Friday evening, after their principal came under fire for threatening to punish student athletes who protest during the national anthem.
But the SCS statement also said they expect all protest to be peaceful in nature, and that disruptions to safety will not be tolerated. Cristo Rey Jesuit High School in Minneapolis, which has 84 percent Latino and 11 percent African-American, has a different take on the issue. Can a school legally deny you membership on a football team because they don't like your speech? I think they should be standing for the flag.
It's an issue that smells of lawsuits, with the ACLU already adamant that they will fight any school unwilling to let students express their First Amendment rights.
An attorney for the district cited the 1943 Supreme Court decision that found forcing students to recite the Pledge of Allegiance would violate the rights of students who were Jehovah's Witnesses. "That's part of what our country is about". And in 1969, a 7-2 majority in Tinker v Des Moines School Board clarified the rule.
"We actually have not had any students protesting or taking a knee, so we have not been forced to really take action at this point".
"This is antithetical to our values as Americans and a threat to students' constitutional rights", she said in a statement.
"I don't agree with what they're doing, I wish they would kneel and do their own thing in the locker room type of thing and I wish that everybody could just get along", said Edlin.
In Baton Rouge, the Louisiana capital, one school has made a decision to cancel the national anthem "amid safety concerns", an official said. The court called it free speech. They did the same thing a year ago when they played. In 2007, the Sixth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled a high school coach could remove football players from the team for circulating a petition to have the coach fired.
In closing the letter, Smith adamntly rejected the idea that students being able to particiapte in school sports is a student "right", rather than a choice provided by the school.
"This took place off school grounds and (he) was not a student of the district, but (the tweet) was certainly something that was of concern to parents and students as well", Delf said.
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