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Manatee students protest school 'note' policy to 'take a knee'

Students say they don't need parents permission
Posted at 11:21 PM, Oct 10, 2017

"I did it last year also and I got no push back from any of my peers or teachers for that matter," said student Brendan Mendel.

Brendan Mendel isn't a pro football player or a celebrity, but he does take a knee during the Pledge of Allegiance and the National Anthem at school.

"He's respectful and he's taking a knee for all the right reasons," said his mom Bridget Mendel.

While the Lakewood Ranch High School sophomore has homework to finish he still thought it was important to tell the Manatee County School Board in person Tuesday night why he kneels.

"I know that I'm doing the right thing because I am engaging in my right of free speech," he said. 

Brendan's mom says her boys, twins, both kneel to bring social injustice to light. But the school district requires they have a note from her to exercise the Constitutional right.

"My son can drop out of high school in a year, he's 15 now and he doesn't need a note from me so it seems a little counterintuitive," she said.

That's why a group of students, parents, even an ACLU rep, showed up tonight to voice growing concern about the note policy. One of them, a Vietnam veteran, says he fought for that right.

"Just because he's a child you can't take his rights away and the note that they need is the First Amendment," said Lou Murray.

District leaders say they'll speak about the issue during their next public policy meeting on October 24.

"You shouldn't be held under the beliefs of your parents. You know, you are your own person," said student Mercury Clark.