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Monroe teen chided for sitting out pledge
Times Snohomish County Bureau
When Kyle King's cousin was killed by a sniper in Iraq two years ago, he lost more than a friend and role model. The Monroe High School senior also lost his faith in the war and in the government that was waging it.
When the rest of his classmates stood during fifth period for the Pledge of Allegiance, King stayed seated. A few teachers questioned him, he said, but until this year, none challenged his right to sit quietly.
But recently, King said, a music teacher told him he was required to stand with the other students. He said the teacher, in front of a class of about 30 students, also challenged his patriotism, his loyalty and his religious beliefs.
Now the Monroe School District is investigating whether the teacher exceeded her authority in insisting that he stand for the daily flag salute.
"It's never right to call a student out for their beliefs. That's not what public school is about," said Rosemary O'Neil, spokeswoman for the Monroe schools.
The teacher, Katie Lenoue, said she'd be in "a lot of trouble with the district" if she commented.
Last week, King's parents went to Monroe's principal to protest Lenoue's comments. The school district confirmed that no student is required to stand during the pledge but must remain respectful of those who do.
King's mother, Kelly King, said she was angry that her son's patriotism was questioned. She has another nephew fighting in Ramadi, a daughter considering joining the Air Force, a brother who served in the Army and a husband who served in the Air Force.
"We're a very patriotic family," she said. "I think you can be patriotic and still not agree with what's going on in Iraq."
Kyle King said some students have said hurtful things to him since his protest became more widely known. But he said more students have told him he was brave for sticking to his beliefs.
Lynn Thompson: 425-745-7807 or email@example.com
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