GAINESVILLE, Va. - A Virginia school board chairman is getting attention on social media for his comments on President Donald Trump and standing for the Pledge of Allegiance and the national anthem
Ryan Sawyers, who is Chairman of the Prince William County School Board, said in a tweet on Monday: "Your are not required to stand for the national anthem or pledge. There will be no action taken against you for choosing to not stand or participate. Our President is a bonafide idiot but you are safe in PWCS."
Attention PWCS students and staff. Your are not required to stand for the national anthem or pledge. There will be no action taken against you for choosing to not stand or participate.— Ryan Sawyers (@RyanSawyersVA) November 20, 2017
Our President is a bonafide idiot but you are safe in PWCS. https://t.co/GMO1NIWYAa
Sawyers spoke to FOX5's Paul Wagner, and says he didn't expect his tweet to get the attention that it did.
"I didn't put it out. I certainly may have raised an elevation with my tweet, which I certainly didn't think it was going to get the attention it did. I find no shame in making sure students and families know what their rights are in the school system."
The tweet was received with both praise and criticism, following the continuing conversation on athletes standing for the national anthem during games.
My father, a vet told me: I was in the army. Soldiers fought and died so you would have the freedom of choice to sit or stand during the National Anthem. So, fellow Americans - You are free to do as you wish - sit or stand— CacheJewels (@CacheJewels) November 20, 2017
I went to High school in PWC. I refused to stand once with my hand over my heart once. I was (rightly) read the riot act from my teacher and told to go join the military if I didn't understand why we stood.— C. F. Auld (@cfauld) November 21, 2017
Oh wow... I don't care where he stands political in his personal home and in his personal time but he's representing a school district. If my kids were in his schools I'd be visiting the school board NOW.— American Housewife (@AmericHousewife) November 21, 2017
Uncalled for and unprofessional!
Sawyers, defending his tweet, says he was merely stating what the Constitution says and is defending the rights of students and staff.
"This is established by not too hyperbolic here, but this is established by the constitution and the supreme court ruling. This isn't Ryan Sawyers' opinion on government. This is something that is established in the First Amendment to the Constitution -- something that I take a lot of pride in," he says.
Sawyers also tweeted a county regulation from 2003 that said standing for the Pledge of Allegiance "is not compulsory and shall be provided through school-wide participation using the intercom or through individual teachers who may desire to lead their class in the pledge."
"Students, football players, everyone has a right to certainly a peaceful demonstration of their First Amendment rights and I think it is important that our employees and students know that."
Sawyers, a Democrat, is running for Congress for Virginia's 1st congressional district to take Congressman Rob Wittman's seat. The primary election is on June 12.