Small rally outside Farmington school over Pledge dispute

Sarah Rahal
The Detroit News

Farmington Hills — A small rally took place outside of East Middle School on Monday after a teacher was accused by a parent of manhandling a student who refused to stand for the Pledge of Allegiance.

Less than a dozen people showed up outside the school Monday morning in support of an 11-year-old student whose parent, Brian Chaney, said the rights of his son, Stone, were violated when he was "violently snatched from his chair for not standing for the Pledge of Allegiance" at school Sept. 7.

The rally took place outside of East Middle School at 7:30 a.m. before school began session Monday at 7:45 a.m.

The case remains under investigation, according to David Crim, Michigan Education Association spokesman.

“There were no charges filed against the teacher,” Crim said Monday. “When we asked this morning, Farmington Hills school district administration indicated they are still investigating the incident.

“The teacher wants to know what the situation is and contacted her union but that’s all we know so far.”

Chaney posted on Facebook on Saturday saying, "On behalf of the Chaney family,
we are thankful for all the thoughts and prayers and words of encouragement." He also used the hashtag "#WeSITwithStone."

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 Friday. "The District fully supports the right of each student to participate or not in the daily Pledge."

East Middle School Principal Ken Sanders and Heitsch were unable to be reached Monday to comment on the rally.

A community coffee with Heitsch is planned for 10 a.m. on Tuesday for parents and community members to ask questions of the superintendent regarding the school district. The meeting, which will be held at the Lewis Schulman Administration Building, is open to the public.

Staff writer Charles E. Ramirez contributed.