Klein ISD student harassed after not standing for pledge

The settlement comes 5 years after the lawsuit was first filed in federal courtroom.

HOUSTON — A former Klein Oak High School student gained a $90,000 settlement practically 5 years after submitting a federal lawsuit claiming she’d been harassed and punished for refusing to face for the Pledge of Allegiance. The swimsuit claimed her rights to free speech had been violated. 

“She is very relieved it’s all over and feels vindicated,” stated her lawyer Randall Kallinen. 

Her lawsuit was settled shortly earlier than it was set to go to trial.

“Student’s rights are vital and deserve to be protected,” stated Geoffrey Blackwell with American Atheists, a civil rights group. 

American Atheists stated the student, a senior at Klein Oak again in 2017 objected to the phrases “under God” and believed “liberty and justice for all” was not assured for folks of colour. It’s why she selected to sit down through the pledge. 

“They punished her and retaliated against her for not participating,” stated Kallinen.

Klein ISD was a defendant within the swimsuit however was dismissed from the case greater than a year in the past. Benjie Arnold, a former sociology instructor on the faculty, was the lone defendant left within the lawsuit. 

“He would tell the students if they weren’t happy in the United States, he would pay them to move to Europe,” stated Blackwell. 

The Texas Association of School Boards opted to pay $90,000 to settle Arnold’s case. 

“They spent hundreds of thousands of dollars in attorney fees fighting this student and her rights to free speech and in the end, we prevailed,” stated Kallinen.

The student’s attorneys inform us the case sends a transparent message throughout the nation. 

“You still retain your free speech rights when you go to school,” stated Kallinen. “Students cannot be made to stand and pledge allegiance to a country. This is not Russia.”

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