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Teacher suspended after forcing fourth grader to recite Pledge of Allegiance

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Anne Daigle-McDonald, a teacher at Explorer K-8 School in Spring Hill, Fla., was suspended last month for five days without pay for forcing one of her fourth grade students, a Jehovah's Witness, to recite the Pledge of Allegiance with the rest of his class.

The incident happened on Sept. 11 according to The Tampa Bay Times.

Not reciting the pledge came naturally for the fourth grader, as Jehovah's Witnesses – according to their faith - refrain from worshiping objects.

As the boy stood still and silent during the pledge with his hands at his side, the teacher grabbed his wrist and forced his hand over his heart.

The youngster reminded the teacher that he was a Jehovah's Witness, to which the teacher responded “you are an American, and you are supposed to salute the flag."

Students from the class say that the teacher addressed the entire class the following day on Sept. 12, saying:

"In my classroom, everyone will do the pledge; no religion says that you can't do the pledge."

"If you can't put your hand on your heart, then you need to move out of the country."

After investigating the situation, officials with the Hernando Co. School District came to the conclusion that Daigle-McDonald "violated a number of state education rules, professional conduct principles and the student's right to free speech and freedom of religion."

In addition to having been suspended without pay for five days, Anne Daigle-McDonald was also required to attend diversity training.

The Tampa Bay Times reminded us of the following:

The law is on the school's side. A 1943 Supreme Court ruling made it unconstitutional to force a child to salute the flag, giving students the right to opt out of the pledge in public schools, regardless of their religion.

Daigle-McDonald has taught in the Hernando Co. School District for nine years.

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