Va. school chairman: Students 'not required' to stand for pledge, calls Trump 'bonafide idiot'

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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."

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.

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.