A physical education teacher at a Colorado middle school has been charged with child abuse and assault for forcefully making a student stand during the Pledge of Allegiance.
Karen Smith, who worked at Angevine Middle School in Lafayette, Colorado, was charged with child abuse and third-degree assault in the alleged 1 February incident. The 20-year veteran of the Boulder Valley School District was placed on paid administrative leave pending the investigation.
According to Lafayette Police Department, Smith allegedly forcefully made a student stand for the pledge by lifting him to his feet by his jacket and then removing him from the classroom.
In a letter to parents at the time of the incident, Angevine Middle School Principal Mike Medina said that district policy allows for students to stand or sit for the Pledge of Allegiance.
Medina also told parents that a substitute teacher would replace Smith during physical education classes.
Following a 12-day investigation, police and the Boulder County District Attorney's Office found probably cause to charge smith, according to Denver7.
In a statement on Tuesday (13 February), the school district said it had learned Smith was charged and that she remained on paid leave.
"Today we learned that the Boulder County District Attorney's office has formally charged Angevine Middle School Physical Education Teacher Karen Smith. Ms Smith has served Boulder Valley School District for 20 years and is currently on paid administrative leave," it said.
The statement continued: "We are cooperating with the District Attorney's Office and respect their decision on this matter. We are unable to comment further because it remains a personnel matter that the school district is actively investigating."
The 59-year-old was processed Tuesday (13 February) and released with a summons for her charges, 9News reported.