Midland mother: Son was told to stand during Pledge of Allegiance

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MIDLAND -- UPDATE: The boy's family tells CBS 7 that he was allowed back to school today, but decided to stay home because of backlash from the incident.

Midland ISD Superintendent Rod Schroder released this statement on the incident:

"A child's expression during the pledge is fine. We respect the right of children to express their feelings in this manner as long as it does not interfere with the rights of other students. Unfortunately, the student's actions during and after the pledge yesterday contributed to the response of the campus administration."

The mother and grandmother of an 8-year-old black student at Milam Elementary say they are upset after the boy was sent home after kneeling during the Pledge of Allegiance.

Midland Independent School District says the boy was sent home for an “outburst” but acknowledged he kneeled during the pledge.
“I kneeled because it was justice for black people getting murdered,” 8-year-old Jaxon told CBS7.

Jaxon’s choice to kneel was no surprise to Grandmother Stephanie Cook.

“He’s a very smart kid, he’s very interested in politics, he comes home and talks about it. He watches the news, he reads the newspaper,” Cook said, athletes like Colin Kapernick made headlines with kneeling during the pledge of allegiance to protest racial injustice and police brutality.

The November 2014 shooting of 12-year-old Tamir Rice resonates with Jaxon and his family. The young black boy was shot and killed by Cleveland Police while playing with a toy gun in a park.”

"Acknowledge the system is set up to fail,” Cook said. Holding back tears. “Don't get mad that we are standing up for what is right. It’s about time.”

In the meantime, the school district is not saying much citing FERPA privacy, saying only it was “disruptive” behavior that was “more than kneeling.”

“Midland ISD is aware of the actions that took place this morning at Milam Elementary School. Federal law prohibits the release of specific information regarding individual student discipline,” MISD Spokesperson Woodrow Bailey said in a statement. “Midland ISD has adopted a Student Code of Conduct. When those standards are violated students will be disciplined according to district policy.”

According to the boy's grandmother, the boy was getting ready to do the Pledge of Allegiance and kneeled down. A student said “Get up” and Jaxon said “No I’m not getting up.” The grandmother says the teacher said “Get up," and he said “No I don’t have to, this is my right and this is my decision.”

As for the demonstration, she said she’s proud of Jaxon for what he did.

“I would have liked the teacher to do what was right,” Cook said. “He has the right to kneel, why make a big deal out of it? If you feel like the other students in class don’t understand. Take that time, right there was her window, to teach.”

It turns out that the Texas Education Agency has put out guidance on a similar subject. In 2012, they said districts may excuse a student from reciting the pledge of allegiance upon written request from a parent or guardian. There is no guidance as to whether students have to stand or sit.

We reached out to another local school district which said it had no written policy on how students have to stand or sit during the pledge.