Community sounds off after school punishes boy for refusing to stand for pledge

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by Alice Barr / KHOU 11 News

khou.com

Posted on May 8, 2014 at 5:40 PM

Updated Thursday, May 8 at 5:44 PM

HOUSTON -- A student at Needville High School says he was given a two-day in-school suspension for refusing to stand for the Pledge of Allegiance.

It has sparked a debate on social media, and in town, about whether that’s the right response, or a violation of the student’s rights.

In small-town Needville, there’s always a neighbor ready to bend your ear.

“Small towns have a lot to say about everything,” one Needville resident said with a laugh.

Thursday’s topic was a controversial one: the in-school suspension of Needville High School sophomore Mason Michalec, because he refused to stand for the Pledge of Allegiance.

“I’m really tired of our government taking advantage of us,” said Michalec. “I don’t agree with the NSA spying on us.”

Most folks around town Thursday had just one reaction to Mason sitting it out.

“Oh that’s wrong,” said Needville resident Peggy Janczak.

The pledge brings up strong and powerful associations.

“I think he’s being disrespectful to the flag, and those folks who gave their lives for him to have his opinion,” said Needville resident David McDonald.

Another neighbor, Jimmie Pekar added, “If you live in the United States, the greatest country in the world, you should support the United States.”

“The soldiers are out there, they’re doing their job and he should stand up,” said neighbor Jo Castillo.

Janczak added, “You’ve got a lot of things here that a lot of people don’t have, that’s respect, that’s freedom.”

Only one man KHOU11 spoke to, saw things another way.

“The kid’s well-spoken and he’s well-informed,” said Needville neighbor Dean Reese. “It’s not like he’s ignorant, he’s not doing it to make people mad. He’s doing it because of his personal beliefs.”

Reese believes punishing Mason for speaking his mind, sends the wrong message.

 “I’m a veteran, I’m not real big on flag-burning or anything like that, but this country is a free country and we’re free to do what we want,” he said.

And, like in the town of Needville, free to disagree about it.

KHOU called and stopped by the superintendent’s office on Thursday to ask about the district policy on this, but folks in the office said he wasn’t there and couldn’t be reached. The principal of Needville High School told KHOU he couldn’t talk about it.

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