CENTREVILLE, Va. - A northern Virginia high school student says he was physically removed from class and was forced to stand outside for not standing up for the pledge of allegiance.
Eric Trammel, a sophomore at Centreville High School says it happened during Driver’s Ed class last month.
Now, Fairfax County says the teacher won't be returning to any school in the district.
The 15-year-old and his family have been speaking to a lawyer after this incident, Maxwelle Sokol, who tells FOX 5 this is the first time the teen has ever received backlash for something he's been doing every morning for years.
"He didn’t stand up. Mr. Ferrick told him to stand up, and he again said I'm not going to do that, respectfully. He wasn’t making a scene or anything. And then Mr. Ferrick grabbed him, shoved him outside and made him stand in the cold and somewhere along the line made some comment 'this isn't the NFL," says Sokol.
"I understand this a hot topic right now with Colin Kaepernick. But, our country is built on values that allow you to express yourself as you see fit -- within reasonable limits obviously. But choosing to sit during the Pledge of Allegiance is about as benign a show of your personal values you could possibly ask for. Not making a scene, not yelling, not protesting anything with a picket sign, just sitting down. The Constitution recognizes that right, and I think that is going to trump what the political topic du jour is," she says.
The attorney says this all took place the morning of November 14. She says it was one of the first days of a new semester, during the pledge of allegiance, Eric chose to stay seated, as he’s done since the 8th grade. She says he was the only student in the class who did not stand.
She says Eric is an African American student, was inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement, and it's his way of demonstrating against racial inequality and the current political climate.
FOX 5 did receive a statement from Fairfax County Public Schools, and says the incident was unacceptable behavior by an instructor, and violates a long-standing FCPS policy.
The policy reads in part:
“No student shall be subjected to unfavorable comment or stigmatization of his or her decision to participate or abstain from the recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance. Non-participating students are expected to sit quietly or to stand silently if they want."
"No disciplinary sanction may be imposed for refusal to participate."
The statement did not identify the teacher, but said he was not returning to any Fairfax County Public School. The school district has apologized to the student and his family.
Attorney James Freeman has issued a statement on behalf of the teacher, Richard Ferrick:
"Mr. Ferrick has been a teacher with an impeccable record of service to Fairfax County Public schools for over 32 years. The allegations against him are misleading and without merit.”
No lawsuit has been filed at this time.