California High School Student Gets Lower Grade for Protesting Pledge of Allegiance

September 15, 2016 Updated: September 16, 2016

A teacher at a California high school lowered the grade of a student who refused to stand during the Pledge of Allegiance.

Leilani Thomas, the student, said she had been sitting during the Pledge of Allegiance since the second grade, KXTV reported. A teacher at Lower Lake High School took points off her participation grade for sitting.

“She told me I was being disrespectful and I was pretty mad,” Thomas, who is Native American, told KXTV. “She was being disrespectful to me also, saying I was making bad choices, and I don’t have the choice to sit during the pledge.”

Thomas said she decided to sit down because her parents told her what the Pledge of Allegiance meant to them.

“My dad and my mom brought up what [the pledge] meant to us and our people and what happened—you know, the history,” she told ABC News. “So I just started sitting down.”

Until recently, Thomas never had any problems.

San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s has refused to stand during the national anthem before games. Other NFL players have sat or knelt during the anthem.

Konocti Unified School District Superintendent Donna Becnel weighed in on the matter, saying that two students, including Thomas, were transferred to another class.

“Students here have First Amendment rights, and they do not lose that when they come to school,” Becnel told ABC. “If any students have any concerns about their right to free speech, they can speak with a site administrator. We also have policies in place to protect their right.”