A middle school physical education teacher from Meredith, Colorado, is facing child abuse charges after she allegedly forced one of her students to stand during the Pledge of Allegiance this month.
According to Fox12, Karen Smith, an employee at Angevine Middle School who's been in the district for 20 years, was charged on Tuesday with third-degree assault, in addition to the child abuse charges. Police said she grabbed one of her students by his jacket and physically removed him from the classroom because he sat down during the Pledge.
Boulder Valley School District spokesman Randy Barber told Fox12 that the student didn’t break any policy. In fact, students are allowed to either to stand or sit for the Pledge, Barber told the Denver Post. In the 1943 West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette Supreme Court decision, it was decided that public school students cannot be forced to stand during the Pledge of Allegiance.
Smith has been placed on paid administrative leave due to the open police investigation.
Angevine Middle School Principal Mike Medina said in a statement: "While we are unable to share more because it is a legal and personnel matter that the school district is actively investigating, I, again, want to reaffirm that our focus remains firmly on our students.”
It is unclear at this time if Smith has an attorney who can speak on her behalf.
One parent told CBS Denver that her daughter finds Smith to be a "strict" teacher, but has never had any problems with her. Some parents told the outlet that the story has been "blown out of proportion.”
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[Photo: Boulder Valley School District]