A Florida middle school has pulled a teacher's aide from classrooms after two eighth-graders complained that she told them to “go back to Haiti," officials said.
The Fort Myers News-Press reports that the 14-year-old girls sat down during a moment of silence after reciting the Pledge of Allegiance at Lexington Middle School.
Shaundoria Daniels, the mother of one of the girls, told the newspaper on Monday that her daughter said the teacher's assistant got upset and told them to “go back to Haiti.” Daniels said her daughter is not Haitian, but the other girl was born in the U.S. of Haitian descent.
When reporting the incident to the Fort Myers school, Daniels discovered another parent had already called administrators to complain about the teacher assistant. The assistant principal told her the two girls had already been asked to give statements on what happened, but Daniels said the school had not informed her.
Get South Florida local news, weather forecasts and entertainment stories to your inbox. Sign up for NBC South Florida newsletters.
Rob Spicker, a spokesman for Lee County school district, said the aide was not teaching any classes while the incident is under investigation. Spicker did not release the aide's name.
The district does not have any guidelines for whether a student stands for a moment of silence. But the 2019-20 student code of conduct references state law regarding the Pledge of Allegiance, saying students have “the right not to participate in reciting the pledge” with written request from a parent or guardian. “This includes not standing and placing the right hand over his or her chest,” the handbook states.