A Colorado middle school teacher is facing child abuse charges for forcing a boy to stand during the Pledge of Allegiance, a report says.
Karen Smith, a physical education teacher at Angevine Middle School in Lafayette, Colorado, is accused of grabbing a student by his jacket and forcing him to stand during the recitation and then forcibly removing him from the classroom afterward. The incident occurred on February 1, Denver’s CB affiliate reported.
Smith, a 20-year teaching veteran, turned herself in to police on February 1 to face the charges of child abuse as well as assault in the third degree.
The Boulder Valley School District released a statement saying they were cooperating with authorities:
Today we learned that the Boulder County District Attorney’s office has formally charged Angevine Middle School Physical Education Teacher Karen Smith. Ms. Smith has served Boulder Valley School District for 20 years and is currently on paid administrative leave.
We are cooperating with the District Attorney’s Office and respect their decision on this matter. We are unable to comment further because it remains a personnel matter that the school district is actively investigating.
A district spokesperson also told the media that there is no rule requiring students to stand for the Pledge.
“No basis for objection need be stated,” Randy Barber wrote in an email obtained by the New York Daily News. “Students who choose not to participate should not be disciplined nor should they be forced to stand, leave the room, or be ostracized in any way.”
“We are dedicated, as always, to supporting our students and ensuring that we have qualified educators working with them during their physical education time,” district spokesperson Randy Barber said.
The teacher is known to be “strict” with students, but there is no public history of complaints against her.
Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston.