COVID-19 Update: Our offices remain open 24/7, with videoconferencing available.

Lakeland 11-year-old arrested for confrontation after refusal to stand for Pledge

Posted on February 18th, 2019 at 12:01 PM

This article was originally published on by Kimberly C. Moore on February 15, 2019

LAKELAND — An 11-year-old Lawton Chiles Middle Academy student was arrested Feb. 4 and charged with disrupting a school function and resisting arrest without violence following a confrontation with school officials and a law enforcement officer.

The incident happened after his refusal to stand for the Pledge of Allegiance and his refusal to stand after ordered by the substitute teacher.

Polk County Public Schools spokesman Kyle Kennedy said the sixth-grader “was arrested after becoming disruptive and refusing to follow repeated instructions by school staff and law enforcement.”

Kennedy said he wanted to make it clear that the student was not arrested for refusing to participate in the pledge.

“Students are not required to participate in the Pledge of Allegiance,” Kennedy said.

Gary Gross, a spokesman for the Lakeland Police Department, said he could not legally comment because the case involved a minor charged with a misdemeanor.

According to a report on Bay News 9, the student allegedly told a substitute teacher that he didn’t want to stand for the Pledge of Allegiance, that “the flag is racist and the national anthem is offensive to black people.”

District officials said the teacher’s name is Ana Alvarez. Kennedy said she was not aware of district policy regarding the pledge as voluntary.

She allegedly told the student, “Why if it was so bad here he did not go to another place to live?”

Dhakira Talbot, the boy’s mother, told Bay News 9 that the teacher’s actions were inappropriate and that her son should not have been suspended.

“She was wrong. She was way out of place,” Talbot said. “If she felt like there was an issue with my son not standing for the flag, she should’ve resolved that in a way different manner than she did.”

Kennedy said he could not discuss the student’s discipline. He said Alvarez will no longer serve as a substitute in Polk County Public Schools and that they will be reviewing their training policy with the outside agency that handles hiring substitute teachers.

“Our HR department will contact Kelly Services, which provides our substitutes, to further refine how our substitutes are trained,” Kennedy said.

Free Case Consultation

Name *
Email *
Phone *
Brief desription of your legal issue *



Attorney Sebald did a great job handling my case. I was cited improperly for a traffic accident, and Steve and his partner were able to resolve the situation quickly and with great professionalism.


Attorney Sebald represented me in 2005 for a DUI. So when I was facing legal problems again in 2015 for getting 3 DUI's in a 5 month period due to an addiction to alcohol I knew I needed him to represent me again. Mr. Sebald truly cares about his clients. I met with him we discussed my case and what I was facing. He guided me on what I should do. He doesn't sugar coat things. Mr. Sebald is honest with you from the beginning and will do everything he can to get the best possible outcome. I was facing some pretty serious consequences and through his advice, guidance and representation I not only was able to avoid Jail time but also get help for my problem with alcohol. I truly believe if it weren't for him I would not be where I am today. After hiring Attorney Sebald he traveled to Lycoming county to represent me for my preliminary hearing and sentencing. He called and spoke with the D.A., judges as well as other attorneys in that area. He also represented me here in Erie county for my preliminary hearing as well as sentencing. He does his research. I would strongly recommend Mr Sebald to anyone who needs legal representation.


I just wanna say that I am overly satisfied with Mr Sebald! I recommend if you have any troubles to contact him and his partner Mr Hackwelder. The both did a Great job thank you guys!


I received a speeding ticket while traveling through Erie, PA. Steve and his expert team took care of everything while I was 600 miles away in North Carolina. He greatly reduced my conviction and fines. Valerie on his team took the time to hand-hold me through the process. I truly appreciate all that Steve and his team did to resolve this positively for me.

Diane Erie, PATraffic Violation Defense

Steve has helped us numerous times. He has been there for us when ever we call and made himself available in a moments notice when necessary. He knows just what to do and is also great at dealing with the emotional side of the situation. We trust him completely and would highly recommend Steve.


I would highly recommend Attorney Hackwelder. My case was different than most but he went out of his way to do his research to make sure things went my way. He won the case for me and if I ever need another attorney I will call him again.


Eric was great. Very professional and very knowledgeable of the law. Attorney Hackwelder and his partner were able to resolve my particular case quickly and to my benefit. Good job!


Stephen Sebald far exceeded my expectations. As a result of trusting in his extensive knowledge of the law & him working diligently on my case, charges were substantially reduced. He was always on call & went above & beyond in my case. Excellent defense attorney!


I was in a rough spot and Attorney Sebald exceeded my expectations while being fair and upfront about the possible outcomes. I was impressed by his knowledge and navigation of the law, but also by his relationships within that community.


Eric has helped us numerous times. He has been there for us when ever we call and made himself available in a moments notice, when necessary. He knows just what to do and is also great at dealing with the emotional side of the situation. We trust him completely and would highly recommend Eric.