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Teacher Disciplined After Trying To Force Student To Stand For Pledge

CHICAGO (CBS) -- A Blue Island high school teacher has been disciplined, after trying to force a student to stand for the pledge of allegiance.

Michael Stillman, an attorney for Community High School District 218, wouldn't say how the teacher was disciplined, but said her behavior did not rise to the level of a fireable offense.

In a letter, Stillman said the district has investigated the case and has acted accordingly with the teacher.

The student's mother, Kelly Porter, said the teacher was suspended.

"I am very happy with the outcome, and what this tells me is my son's First Amendment right was definitely violated. I'm grateful that the teacher was reprimanded, suspended, because it sends a message to other schools that you cannot violate children's First Amendment right and get away with it," she said.


Her 15-year-old son, Shemar Cooper, chose to sit during the pledge two weeks ago, and his Spanish teacher approached him about it. His mother acknowledged his response was "America sucks," and she said that "was a little disrespectful," so she had him apologize for what he said.

However, Porter said the teacher and other staff harassed Shemar about it the next week. She said he was sent to the principal's office for refusing to stand for the pledge. She said, when the teacher insisted Shemar stand for the pledge last week, she tried to pull him out of his seat, and two days later, he was removed from class and reprimanded.

Last week, Porter said she wanted the teacher arrested, but said she's happy with the outcome.

"As long as she was held accountable, and she'll never do it again. You know, everybody has to learn from their mistakes. I'm not a hard or cold-hearted person. I'm very forgiving. I have released any anger that I had towards his teacher," she said.

Stillman said the school's hope is this ends here, and the episode will be used as a learning and training experience.

Porter said she's proud of her son's actions.

"I'm so proud of this little boy that I've raised, and I'm so proud of who I've raised him to be; to stand up for what you believe in, and in this case, to sit down," Porter said.

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