Physical education instructor Karen Smith, 59, was known as a “strict” teacher to some Colorado parents, CBS Denver said.
But Smith’s attempt to get a student at Angevine Middle School in Lafayette, Colorado, to stand up during the Pledge of Allegiance went too far, according to police.
The boy had refused to get up for the pledge around 9 a.m. on Feb. 1, The Daily Camera reported. So Smith, a teacher with 20 years of experience, grabbed the boy by the jacket, lifted him to his feet and dragged him out of the classroom, police said.
The school district allows students to sit or stand for the pledge, the newspaper said. A U.S. Supreme Court decision in 1943 — the West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette — prohibits school officials from forcing public school students to salute the flag while reciting the pledge.
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Smith was placed on administrative leave while police investigated the incident, BBC reported. She was charged Tuesday with recklessly causing child abuse with injury and third-degree assault, ABC 7 reported.
Randy Barber, a spokesman for the district, told parents on Tuesday that the district has learned of the charges and will conduct its own investigation now that the police probe has concluded, ABC 7 reported.
“We are cooperating with the District Attorney’s Office and respect their decision on this matter,” Barber said.
The Boulder chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People met with the district Interim Superintendent Cindy Stevenson and other school officials on Tuesday, the newspaper said. The NAACP says the meeting was prompted by the Feb. 1 incident, but was part of a larger discussion.
Chapter president Robert Stuart told the Daily Camera a parent of a child in the class described the alleged victim as Hispanic. Smith is white, according to the citation she received, the newspaper said.