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A Texas school district has settled out of court with a high school student who sued them after she was expelled for sitting during the Pledge of Allegiance, reportedly claiming she was singled out because she was black.
During the 2016-17 school year, India Landry, attending Windfern High School in the Cypress-Fairbanks Independent School District, chose not to stand during the Pledge of Allegiance. Texas law states students must recite the pledge unless a parent or guardian gives them permission to opt out. Standing is not optional if the student’s parents do not file the letter giving them permission.
Landry was allegedly repeatedly sent to the office for refusing to stand for the pledge. Principal Martha Strother saw Landry sitting, prompting her to tell Landry to stand. When Landry refused, Strother expelled her, and reportedly told her to leave the school or police would be called. Landry later said, “I don’t think that the flag is what it says it’s for, for liberty and justice and all that. It's not obviously what's going on in America today.”
After Landry filed suit against the school district, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton issued a statement, saying, "Schoolchildren cannot unilaterally refuse to participate in the pledge. Requiring the pledge to be recited at the start of every school day has the laudable result of fostering respect for our flag and a patriotic love of our country.” He added, “The U.S. Supreme Court has repeatedly held that parents have a fundamental interest in guiding the education and upbringing of their children, which is a critical aspect of liberty guaranteed by the Constitution.”
In a court filing submitted by Paxton, he wrote, “The United States flag represents the values of liberty and justice that form the foundation of this country and are defended by our armed forces. It is thus deserving of the highest levels of reverence and respect, which is expressed through every recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance.”
Last July, U.S. District Judge Keith Ellison rejected Cy-Fair ISD's request to have the case dismissed. Randall Kallinen, the attorney for India Landry and her mother, said, "If Cy-Fair wants to bury its head in the sand and say we will violate these people's rights, then we will go to the court and we will go all the way to the Supreme Court if we have to.”
According to the Houston Chronicle, “Landry told reporters in July that her opposition to the pledge was political, inspired by NFL players kneeling during the National Anthem to draw attention to a surge of police violence against African-Americans. The lawsuit accuses the principal, vice principal, secretary and two teachers of violating Landry's rights to free speech, equal protection and due process and of singling her out because she was black.”

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