Student expelled over pledge protest files civil rights lawsuit

By Syan Rhodes - Anchor/Reporter

HOUSTON - A local school district and principal are the center of a federal civil rights lawsuit after a student says she was expelled for not standing during the Pledge of Allegiance.

India Landry, 17, began her silent protest of the pledge last school year, according to her attorney, Randall Kallinen."She had been sitting through six different teachers and 200 some times, she had sat for the pledge," Kallinen said.

But on Monday, Oct. 2, she ended up in the principal's office for texting on her cellphone. And when the pledge began over the intercom, school leaders took notice and took issue when Landry remained seated.

"The school secretary said, 'this ain't the NFL' and the principal said 'you have to stand,' and she said 'no I do not have to stand' and she was instantaneously kicked out of school. They told her she could not come back until she stood for the pledge," Kallinen told Channel 2 News.

Landry was at home for four days until the school principal called her mother with a change of tune.

"Friday morning, she calls back and said India does not have to stand for the pledge and India went back to school that very day," Kallinen said.

Saturday, the teen's mother filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against Cypress Fairbanks Independent School District and the school principal.

"Students have a First Amendment right to speak or not to speak and choosing to stand for the pledge is a form of expression so the government cannot force you to express yourself when you don't want to," Kallinen said.

Windfern High School released the following statement on the issue:

"Although we have not been served with documentation regarding a lawsuit, we will continue to review this situation internally. The student is currently attending classes at Windfern High School."

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