The story of a Lakeland 6th grader being arrested after refusing to stand for the Pledge of Allegiance is getting worldwide attention.
Now Lakeland police and the Polk County School system say there is more to the story.
The Polk County School system issued a statement on Monday, saying the following:
The student was arrested after becoming disruptive and refusing to follow repeated instructions by school staff and law enforcement. This incident followed the daily Pledge of Allegiance in the classroom.
To be clear, the student was NOT arrested for refusing to participate in the pledge; students are not required to participate in the Pledge of Allegiance. Unfortunately, a substitute teacher was not aware of this, and she engaged in an exchange of words with the student and called the school’s administration to come to her classroom. The school’s resource officer, who is permanently assigned to the campus, also responded to the substitute’s classroom but was not called by the administration regarding the incident.
The School Resource Officer (SRO) made the decision to arrest the student. No one from the school requested charges to be pressed or for an arrest to be made.
Lakeland police also issued a statement on the incident, saying:
The School Resource Officer and Dean of Students responded to the classroom and attempted to calm the student down. The student was asked over 20 times to leave the classroom by the Dean of Students. The School Resource Officer then intervened and asked the student to exit the classroom and he refused. The student left the classroom and created another disturbance and made threats while he was escorted to the office.
The student failed to comply with the officer and the school administrator interfering with the educational process.
A family member of the 6th grader declined to comment about what happened to cause the arrest, telling a reporter they have been too overwhelmed by what has happened to say anything at this time.