Teacher allegedly lowers student’s grade for sitting during Pledge of Allegiance

LOWER LAKE, Calif. — A high school student in California says she sat during the Pledge of Allegiance long before Colin Kaepernick did and never had an issue – until recently.

Leilani Thomas told ABC 10 she has been silently protesting since she was in second grade, ABC 10 News reports.

“My mom and my dad brought up what it meant to us and our people,” Leilani said as she explained her Native American heritage. “So I just started sitting down.”

The high schooler told ABC 10 that recently a teacher at Lower Lake High School seemed to have an issue with her action and lowered her participation grade for not standing while students recited the Pledge of Allegiance.

“She told me I was being disrespectful, and I was pretty mad,” Leilani said. “She was being disrespectful to me also, saying I was making bad choices, and I don’t have the choice to sit during the pledge.”

The district’s Superintendent Donna Becnel told ABC 10 she supports students’ first amendment rights and will continue standing by Leilani and the other student who chose to sit.

“They have the same rights when they walk into the schoolhouse than anybody else does,” Becnel said.

The superintendent said the district’s policy is to respect the students’ free speech.

According to ABC 10, Leilani and her friend were switched to another teacher after the district learned about the incident.

Leilani said she plans to continue sitting and is getting support from many of her classmates.

“I’m understanding it more that it means a lot and to a lot of my people also,” she said.


  • E

    Personally, I would not sit through the pledge, but the most un-american part of this whole debate is the thought that anyone must stand for the pledge or the national anthem or should be condemned if they do not. I assume everyone here would say they value freedom, but it seems many don’t really understand what freedom is.
    I would not fly the confederate flag since it is literally an anti-american symbol of treason, but I don’t question that others have the right to do so. I know I’ll get a ton of dislikes, but I also know I’ll get no intelligent argument.

  • tariq falla

    You really can’t blame our children for disrespecting our flag. Most of the time our country deserves no respect. I told all my children to remain seated in school also during the pledge of allegiance. I think it should be banned. It has no place to be in our schools.

    • BE NICE

      Great, one more person teaching their children to disrespect, and bragging about it. That’s the problem in this country.
      I told my children to pay attention in class, don’t talk while the teacher’s talking, do your homework and study, and have a little fun in the process.
      Coming from a big family, and growing up during the era of the Vietnam war, I’ve seen a lot of disparity myself. To some people, getting one decent meal a day is a luxury. A heated home and running water is a luxury. I’m fortunate enough to have those things and I feel lucky for that. I don’t own a dishwasher, but that is not a necessity. I don’t own a smart phone. Having a decent life and appreciating it means something different to everybody. Some people don’t appreciate what they have as much as other do. Everything is relative.

    • Buford T. Justice

      Then move OUT and find a nice, suitable, acceptable place for yourself where you would be ok with them standing..


    If she doesn’t believe in God, then maybe she can STAND for the THOUSANDS of American men and women who put their lives on the line every day of their lives, so that she and “her people” can have the luxurious freedoms they so much enjoy, every day of their lives!

    • reply to be nice

      God has nothing to do with it. As far as standing for the thousands of American men and women, if you’re talking about the veterans in this country, take a look at the comments in the POW/MIA news article on this website. I was appalled by the nasty remarks. Looks like the veterans are eating their own.

    • reply to be nice

      I forgot to add, you might want to check out those “luxurious freedoms” her people are really enjoying.

  • kevin hoover

    I sat during the pledge in school simply because of the phrase “Under God”. I am more than willing to pledge my allegiance to this country but I will not stand during a public prayer. Besides, her not standing is no ones business but hers.


    It’s so unproductive for parents to teach their kids negative things about the Country that they OBVIOUSLY like, if they choose to live there. Unappreciative people who just live here for the benefits, but stay ignorant in their negative view toward this great country, should find another place to live. Why not just enjoy the fact that you are getting the benefit of a great education in a great country, and go along with the positive little things this country offers, life the ability to start every day saying a few words about being thankful for all that we have and how lucky you are to be a part of it!

    • reply to be nice

      She’s Native American. Her ancestors were here long before yours showed up. Why should her people go away? One of the first things out of the mouths of those that think they are better than others is to bring up free benefits/welfare. This assumption is old. If you don’t know for a fact this family is on welfare don’t spread lies. Land of the free? Only if you follow the crowd.

    • Fed Up

      She’s Native American, they were here first. What would really be helpful is if people educated themselves. Her atrocities her people have been subjected to are well documented, and you have the unmitigated gall to suggest she leave the country where her people have lived for thousands of years? It takes a special type of ignorance to do that

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