Liberty High principal removed after rant over players kneeling for national anthem
BATON ROUGE - The East Baton Rouge Parish School System reassigned the principal of Liberty High who had been on leave for the second half of October.
The school district said Tuesday (Oct. 27), Rob Howle was removed as principal of Liberty High School but was still employed by the school system.
The change comes after Howle was put on leave in mid-October following a text message shared online appeared to show him demanding that student-athletes stand for the national anthem.
The conversation shows an individual identified as Howle saying the school should consider making standing for the anthem mandatory and that kneeling before football games was "embarrassing."
"Playing Football is a privilege not a right," the message read in part. "If they don't want to stand they can turn in their equipment and we will refund their money."
In mid-October, a school spokesperson said the system "respects students' rights to freedom of speech and expression."
Part of the school system's previous statement
"In accordance with the Student Rights and Responsibilities handbook, the East Baton Rouge Parish School System respects students' rights to freedom of speech and expression and promotes responsible citizenship."
The school system also cited the following policy concerning the Pledge of Allegiance.
At the beginning of each school day, time shall be permitted for those students and teachers desiring to do so to observe a brief time in silent meditation (not intended or identified as a religious exercise), which shall not exceed five minutes, and for reciting the Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag.
Every assembly or meeting in each school should begin with the Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag and with the playing or the singing of the National Anthem, and all students shall be encouraged to learn the words of the National Anthem. Throughout the playing (singing) of the National Anthem and/or the recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag, students shall be encouraged to exhibit respectful behavior.
Assistant Principal Shawonna Ross will serve as the lead administrator on campus until a new principal is selected, the district said.
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