Farmington teacher accused of mistreating student put on leave

Brian Chaney says his son, Stone, left, pictured with his brother, River, right, was manhandled by a teacher for not standing for the Pledge of Allegiance.

A Farmington Public Schools middle school teacher has been put on leave after a being accused by a parent of manhandling a student who refused to stand for the Pledge of Allegiance.

Brian Chaney, a parent in the district, said in a post on his Facebook page that his son Stone was "violently snatched from his chair for not standing for the Pledge of Allegiance" at school Sept. 7.

He also said in the post his son was "then verbally assaulted the next day.... THIS IS A VIOLATION OF HIS CIVIL RIGHTS......School staff were the perpetrators in both instances."

Stone attends class at East Middle School, where he is in sixth grade, his father said. The 11-year-old told Chaney that he was a pulled out of his seat by one staffer then berated by another the next day. 

The youth had declined to stand for the pledge since second grade after learning Chaney had also stopped as a way of decrying social injustices, he said. Stone hadn’t previously encountered problems for his stance and “doesn’t despise anyone for standing for the flag or saying the national anthem or the Pledge of Allegiance,” his father said Friday. “We just have our reasons, and those reasons are our right.”

Officials for the district said Friday the teacher has been placed on administrative leave while the matter is investigated.

"Farmington Public Schools offers every student the opportunity each day to participate in the Pledge of Allegiance," George Heitsch, the district's superintendent said in a statement. "The District fully supports the right of each student to participate or not in the daily Pledge.

East Middle School

“In this particular instance, school leaders began their investigation as soon as they were made aware of the situation, which was the day before the most recent Board meeting.

“At Farmington Public Schools, we expect every child and adult in our district to be treated with dignity and respect. At this time, the District cannot speculate about the outcome of the pending investigation. We assure our parents and families that when any situation like this occurs, we remain committed to providing an education of excellence to every student.”

Chaney questioned why he didn’t learn about the incident from school officials and now is considering enrolling his son elsewhere.

The father said he’s speaking out to prevent it from happening to other students.

News of the situation, he added, has sparked much attention and an “overwhelming” amount of phone calls this week.

“We have kids who say they want to sit with Stone. To us that just warms our hearts because they know they have rights,” he said.