Authorities are currently in the early stages of investigations looking into allegations that Colorado Phys. Ed teacher Karen Smith assaulted a student who sat down during the Pledge of Allegiance, according to 9News. Smith has now been placed on paid administrative leave as a result.
Parents of Angevine Middle School students received a letter this week from the school's principal, Mike Medina, regarding the incident which reportedly happened on Thursday morning. A portion of the letter read:
While I cannot share much information, following an incident today at school, Ms. Smith was placed on paid administrative leave. We are working closely with our partners at the Lafayette Police Department. We believe in due process and therefore ask that everyone respect Ms. Smith’s privacy at this time."
This incident of course ties into the ongoing debate about standing for both the Pledge and the national anthem, with taking a knee becoming the silent but bold protest against racial inequality and injustice. Starting with former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who first took a knee in 2016, it spread among other NFL players and even led to President Trump to call for a boycott, demanding the league enforce rules to make sure players stood up for the anthem or face consequences.
The teacher has been an employee of Valley School District for 20 years, according to district spokesman Randy Barber, who also added that the official policy lets students have the choice to stand or sit during the Pledge. "The practice is not to punish students or staff members that choose not to participate," he said. He also did not confirm or deny the allegations.
As made obvious by much of the backlash that NFL players, and particularly Kaepernick who is currently still a free agent, received for taking a knee, it's clear there is still a lack of understanding about the important reasons behind these actions.