Anyone who is familiar with my work probably knows how I feel about the American flag. I have had friends and family give up everything to defend this country of ours. As long as it’s football players are permitted to kneel during the national anthem without being disciplined you will not find me watching a NFL game. It is my personal belief that anyone who thinks burning the American flag is a proper demonstration gesture needs to take a walk down a dark alley with some pretty big guys who are more than happy to give them a beat down. I love the United States. I LOVE the United States. So when someone insults the United States it is a quick way to get me fired up and ready to fight to defend America’s honor. With all of that said there is one line that no adult should ever take. No matter what a kid says about the United States it is never okay to physically attack a kid. No responsible adult should ever allow themselves to cross that line. However, that is the line that middle school teacher Karen Smith crossed according to a recent article in the Denver Post.
The 60 year old middle school teacher recently pleaded guilty to one count of child abuse resulting in injury after she was accused of assaulting one of her students who would not stand for the Pledge of Allegiance. I may not personally agree with it, but a student choosing not to stand for the Pledge of Allegiance is something that has been protected under the First Amendment going as far back as the 1940s. As a condition of the plea agreement that prosecutors offered Karen Smith an additional third degree assault charge has been dropped.
The now retired middle school teacher who crossed the line when she put her hands on a student has been given an 18 month deferred sentence as the punishment for attacking a student. In terms that anyone who did not attend law school will be able to understand what this means is that if during the 18 months that she is serving the deferred sentence Karen Smith can keep from getting into anymore legal trouble Smith’s guilty plea will be withdrawn.
Last February a male student of Karen Smith at Lafayette Angevine Middle School accused her of forcing him to his feet by his jacket and expelling him from her classroom after he refused to stand for the Pledge of Allegiance. After the student first made the accusation against the middle school teacher Smith found herself placed on paid leave.
The rules of the Boulder Valley School District state that students are allowed to sit or stand during the Pledge of Allegiance, which would mean that at the time when Karen Smith attacked her student the male victim had not done anything wrong since his actions were covered by the school district’s rules. It was in 1943 when the Supreme Court determined that making it a requirement for students to stand during the Pledge of Allegiance was a violation of their First Amendment rights.
Although my feelings would be different if the student in this situation were an adult who was disrespecting our country, in this case the forced ending of a 20 year long teaching career is fair justice for a teacher who can no longer be trusted with the safety of her students.