Teacher Suspended For Kneeling During National Anthem

A teacher at Woodland High School was briefly put on leave after she knelt during the national anthem at a recent school rally. 

At the Kick-off rally on Friday, Oct. 13, Windy Pappas, a chemistry teacher, was seen holding two signs reading, “black lives matter” and “it is okay to disagree with any sign here” while kneeling during the national anthem. Later that same school day, Pappas was escorted out of the high school.

The Woodland Joint Unified School District released the following statement on the matter: "We are aware that there was an unauthorized display during a Woodland High School rally on Friday. As a district, we’re using this as a learning opportunity to ensure we are all aware of the free speech rights of students and employees in schools.”

In an email to parents, Principal Karrie Sequeira-Hernandez said in California schools, "we operate under the 'Tinker Standard' which says that students may exercise their protected free speech rights at school as long as they do not create a disturbance that interferes with other students’ rights, health, safety or in the educational process."

The email goes on to say the rights of instructors, however, are limited by Education Code and case law.

"Their personal, political or religious beliefs are not appropriately expressed at school or in the classroom," Sequeira-Hernandez said in the email.

In an interview with the Woodland Daily Democrat, Pappas said she had no regrets, but at the same time, she didn’t anticipate how many people would be angered by her act.

Pappas returned to her classroom on Tuesday, Oct. 17.

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