Texas High School Ignores Supreme Court, Suspends Mason Michalec for Refusing to Stand During Pledge of Allegiance
A Texas high school defied a US Supreme Court ruling and suspended a student who refused to stand during the Pledge of Allegiance.
Mason Michalec, a 10th-grader at Needville High School in Needville, a small town 40 miles (64 km) southwest of Houston, refused to stand and salute the flag during the customary Pledge of Allegiance.
The US Supreme Court affirmed Michalec’s right to refuse to participate in the patriotic pledge in the 1943 case West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette, in which the majority ruled that:
If there is any fixed star in our constitutional constellation, it is that no official, high or petty, can prescribe what shall be orthodox in politics, nationalism, religion or other matters of opinion or force citizens to confess by word or action their faith therein.
But one Needville teacher was apparently unaware, or possibly dismissive, of Michalec’s rights.
“She told me, ‘this is my classroom, this is the principal’s request,'” the teen told KHOU. “And I still didn’t stand and she said she was going to write me up.”
Michalec says he was punished with two days of in-school suspension. He claims his principal, identified on the school’s website as Richard Janacek, threatened him with further suspensions if his protests continued.
“I’m angry and frustrated and annoyed that they would try to write me up for something I have the right to do,” vented the suspended sophomore.
Despite the violation of Michalec’s rights, KHOU found widespread support for the school’s action among Needville residents.
“If you live in the United States, the greatest country in the world, you should support the United States,” said Jimmie Pekar.
“I think he’s being disrespectful to the flag, and those folks who gave their lives for him to have his opinion,” opined David McDonald.
“The soldiers are out there, they’re doing their job and he should stand up,” added Jo Castillo.
KHOU only found one person who supported Michalec.
“The kid’s well-spoken and he’s well-informed,” argued Dean Reese. “It’s not like he’s ignorant, he’s not doing it to make people mad. He’s doing it because of his personal beliefs.”
“I’m a veteran, I’m not real big on flag-burning or anything like that, but this country is a free country and we’re free to do what we want,” said Reese.
Tagged freedom of expression, Mason Michalec, Needville High School, patriotism, pledge of allegiance, Richard Janacek, student suspended for not standing during Pledge of Allegiance, West Virginia Board of Education v. Barnette