HOUSTON – A lawsuit over a student’s refusal to stand for the Pledge of Allegiance that started more than a year ago was settled this week.
The litigation started in 2017 after then-17-year-old Windfren High School student India Landry was expelled after refusing for the 200th time to stand for the pledge.
Civil rights attorney Randall Kallinen, who represents Landry, sued the Cypress-Fairbanks Independent School District and five employees, saying they violated her right not to stand for the pledge after getting permission from her parents. The state of Texas was later added to the list of defendants.
“This is one of our oldest rights,” Kallinen said.
Advocates for Landry argued her case was not about showing disrespect but instead about freedom of expression.
Kallinen said Friday that his client has reached an agreement with one of the employees.
“Although the settlement agreement is confidential, I can say that the school – the Winfren school where this all occurred – has agreed to put into their student handbook that students have a right not to participate in the Pledge of Allegiance,” Kallinen said.
Kallinen said the next step is to determine whether the statute requiring parental permission to exercise that right is constitutional.
The state is the only defendant remaining in the lawsuit, Kallinen said.
Cy-Fair ISD released the following statement:
"Cypress-Fairbanks ISD did not enter into a settlement, though this was inaccurately inferred by the Plaintiff's press release, issued on Dec. 27. In actuality, the District was dismissed from the case and was not a part of any settlement. It is the District's understanding that the Plaintiff settled with one of the individual Defendants, Ms. Strother.
"Per the CFISD Student Handbook p. 60 (and Texas law), parents may submit a written request to the principal to excuse their child from reciting a pledge. This provision is currently included in the CFISD Student Handbook, and despite what has been reported, the District has not agreed to any additional notification of student rights in regards to this case."