SPRING HILL — The JROTC member at Springstead High School who said she confronted a Muslim student last week because the girl did not stand for the Pledge of Allegiance fabricated that part of the story, school officials said Monday.
Heather Lawrence, a 16-year-old junior at the school, has said she was walking by another homeroom Wednesday morning when she saw a girl with the traditional Muslim head scarf sitting during the pledge.
Later, Lawrence said she confronted the girl, told her she should stand during the pledge and, according to her own account and a school report, said, "Take that thing off your head and act like you're proud to be an American."
A teacher witnessed the confrontation and Lawrence was suspended for five days for violating the district's policy against bullying and harassment. The suspension has since been reduced to three days.
But Lawrence could not have seen what she said she saw, Springstead principal Susan Duval said Monday.
"This girl lied," Duval said. "I have confirmed with the homeroom teacher the young lady stood for the pledge."
The girl and her parents also insist she was standing, Duval said…
Ahmed Bedier, president of the Human Rights Council and a personal friend of the family was relaying a request by the Times for comment this afternoon. But the family is reluctant to go on record with the media, he said.
On Saturday, the Muslim girl's father found his daughter reading online news stories about the incident and the comments from readers, Bedier said.
"She was crying," Bedier said. "She said, 'I didn't do anything wrong. Why are these people saying all these horrible things?'"
"To her, somebody made a mean comment and she just kept walking," Bedier said. She never expected any of this to happen."
The story is troublesome because it has stoked negative feelings toward Muslims among some Americans, Bedier said.
"There are some very known anti-Muslim blogs and Web sites and they're taking up this cause of Heather Lawrence," he said. This girl got caught bullying someone else, and to deflect it she's making it about patriotism and the flag. (More)