Louisiana high school will punish students for protest during anthem

BOSSIER CITY, LA - On Wednesday morning, Bossier Schools Superintendent Scott Smith said there is an expectation his student-athletes will stand for the national anthem at sporting events.

“It is a choice for students to participate in extracurricular activities, not a right, and we at Bossier Schools feel strongly that our teams and organizations should stand in unity to honor our nation’s military and veterans,” Smith said in a statement.

Smith said any discipline delivered to defectors would be handled by individual schools.

One high school official in Bossier Parish said potential punishments range from “extra running to a one-game suspension.”

Poll: Majority of La. voters say players should be disciplined for anthem protests

Thursday, Parkway High principal Waylon Bates sent a letter to athletes and parents describing the school’s rules during the national anthem.

“Parkway High School requires student athletes to stand in a respectful manner throughout the National Anthem during any sporting event in which their team is playing. Failure to comply will result in loss of playing time and/or participation as directed by the head coach and principal. Continued failure to comply will result in removal from the team. Parkway High School is committed to creating a positive environment for sporting events that is free of disruption to the athletic contest or game.”

Thursday, national writer Shaun King tweeted what appeared to be a picture of the letter sent by Bates.

A post from the official twitter account of the American Civil Liberties Union responded to the letter: "The Supreme Court ruled that students don't have to stand for the Pledge of Allegiance—that goes for the national anthem on the ballfield too."

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The ACLU later tweeted: "Louisiana schools are on notice: Forcing students to stand during the national anthem or punishing those who #TakeAKnee would violate students’ First Amendment rights."

Tuesday, Green Oaks principal Steven Grant told The Times his football team would stand together -- arms linked with one another -- during the national anthem when the Caddo Parish school visits Plain Dealing in Bossier Parish on Friday.

The Louisiana High School Athletic Association hasn’t changed its stance since former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick took a knee during the anthem last year to protest racial inequities and police brutality.

“The LHSAA is a principal’s organization whereas in these situations the LHSAA Rules and Regulations do not take precedence,” the release said in 2016. “Therefore, any/all decisions related to individuals and/or teams expressions exhibited during any pre-event national anthem at a LHSAA regular season and/or postseason game, match, meet or contest, will be determined by each individual member school and/or member school’s school district.”

President Donald Trump reignited the controversy with comments during a rally in Alabama last week.

"Wouldn't you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, 'Get that son of a bit** off the field right now, out, he's fired. He's fired,'" Trump said. "You know, some owner is going to do that. He's going to say, 'That guy that disrespects our flag, he's fired.' And that owner, they don't know it (but) they'll be the most popular person in this country."

Sunday and Monday, every NFL team made a statement during the respective anthems -- from kneeling, to linking arms, to staying in the tunnel.

President Trump: NFL has to change on anthem protests or its 'business is going to go to hell'
Caddo Parish’s stance on expressions during the anthem appears to be more permissive than its neighbors across the Red River.

“It is the policy and procedure of Caddo Parish Public Schools and the Caddo Parish School Board to allow students and staff to practice their First Amendment rights as long as that practice does not impede on the ability of others to practice their beliefs,” a statement from Caddo Superintendent Lamar Goree to The Times said.

Twitter: @RoyLangIII

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