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Marion’s NAACP youth leader seeks to change school rule on standing during national anthem

NAACP Marion County Youth Council president Francesca Mitchell is asking the School Board to consider changing a rule requiring students to stand during the national anthem and Pledge of Allegiance. Image: MCPS

Marion County public high school students can be disciplined for kneeling or sitting during the Pledge of Allegiance or national anthem.

But West Port senior Francesca Mitchell is asking the School Board to consider the “new social climate” and allow the protest.

Under the current code of conduct, students must stand unless they have written parental consent.

Some students broke the rule during graduations.

And Mitchell, who leads the NAACP’s Marion County Youth Council, said Thursday that more than a thousand local students joined marches to protest the killings of George Floyd and others.

She said the protests will continue when schools reopen.

She told the board: “We urge you to consider whether we want our schools to be used as a vehicle to punish and penalize students for engaging in the true concept of Americanism or whether this board will find creative ways to transform these moments into a true lesson about democracy and what is good about America.”

At least four of the five board members say they’re willing to talk about changing the rule.

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Joe Byrnes

About Joe Byrnes


Joe Byrnes came to WMFE/WMFV from the Ocala Star-Banner and The Gainesville Sun, where he worked as a reporter and editor for several years. Joe graduated from Loyola University in New Orleans and turned to journalism after teaching. He enjoys freshwater fishing and family gatherings.