Student says she was expelled for sitting during the Pledge of Allegiance

A Houston teenager is suing her high school, claiming she was expelled for not standing during the Pledge of Allegiance.

KPRC reported that India Landry, 17, and her lawyer Randall Kallinen filed a civil lawsuit against the Cypress-Fairbanks Independent School District and her principal at Windfern High School, Martha Strother, after Landry said that her decision to sit for the Pledge of Allegiance led to her expulsion.

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KHOU reported that Landry was in the office on Monday for texting on her cellphone in class when the Pledge of Allegiance came on over the intercom. Landry said Strother told her to stand for the pledge, but Landry remained seated, as she says she had always done without issue for years. Strother then allegedly told her, "Well, you're kicked out of here."

Landry said she has chosen not to stand for the pledge for years as a silent political protest, KHOU reported.

“The school secretary said, ‘This ain’t the NFL’ and the principal said, “You have to stand,’ and she said, ‘No I do not have to stand,’ and she was instantaneously kicked out of school. They told her she could not come back until she stood for the pledge,” Kallinen told KPRC.

The student’s mother, Kizzy Landry, said that she initially had difficulty finding someone who could explain why her daughter was expelled. Kizzy Landry told KHOU that the principal explicitly stated that Landry was kicked out of school for her decision to sit. Though the statement in the phone call was recorded by Landry’s mother, the Cy-Fair Independent School District did not confirm whether the voice belonged to the high school principal.

The district issued a statement, saying, “A student will not be removed from campus for refusing to stand for the pledge.” The district also announced an investigation into the incident.

"The principal instantaneously kicked her out of school, this violated her First Amendment right," Kallinen stated. The 1943 Supreme Court case West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette, which permits students the ability to opt out of the Pledge of Allegiance, was referenced in the lawsuit, The Houston Chronicle reported.

When explaining why she did not stand for the Pledge of Allegiance, Landry said that she didn’t think “the flag is what it says it’s for, for liberty and justice and all that.”

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