A Texas elementary school teacher says she has been fired after posting a viral TikTok video about allowing her third-graders to sit in protest during the Pledge of Allegiance.
Sophia DeLoretto-Chudy, a first-year teacher at Becker Elementary School in Austin with close to 57,000 followers on TikTok, shared a video in late March venting about what she described as a “demoralizing” check-in meeting with Austin Independent School District administrators, who raised a litany of concerns about her teaching style.
DeLoretto-Chudy says in the clip, which now has 3.3 million views, that her “favorite” concern was that district officials have noticed “an intentional attempt in teaching your students about their legal and constructional rights.”
“That’s the concern. They’re concerned,” DeLoretto-Chudy says with a smile. “Why are you concerned? Why is that a concern?”
Another complaint against the teacher listed in a typed-up memo dated March 10, which she shared on TikTok, was the fact that DeLoretto-Chudy allowed her third-grade class to sit for the Pledge of Allegiance.
The rookie teacher explains in a follow-up video boasting 1.1 million views that her students had decided on their own to protest the Pledge after learning about Adolf Hitler’s propaganda directed at children during Holocaust Remembrance Week.
The teacher says that her students were curious about the origins of the Pledge of Allegiance and learned that it emerged in the wake of the Civil War to instill a sense of patriotism in a divided nation.
She notes that the “under God” language was added to the Pledge a century later “because Republicans were afraid of Communism — classic — and atheism.”
“So my kids, my students, decided amongst themselves that they didn’t want to do that anymore and they wanted to actually to protest the Pledge of Allegiance,” DeLorreto-Chudy says.
According to the educator, the third-graders had initially wanted to be disruptive, but that could have gotten them in trouble.
Instead, she talked to them about “silent protest” and how it could be “sometimes more powerful.”
The teacher also taught her class about Colin Kaepernick, the former San Francisco 49ers quarterback who knelt during the national anthem to protest police brutality and racism, after which the students opted to sit out the Pledge of Allegiance at school assemblies.
In the memo listing the administrators’ grievances against DeLoretto-Chudy, they raised doubts that her students fully understood what they were protesting and were acting independently — and accused the teacher of “indoctrinating” the children.
“I am just so grateful that I am finally getting acknowledged for all the hard work I have done this year to indoctrinate my students into being critical thinkers,” DeLoretto-Chudy sarcastically remarks. “They’re making decisions for themselves and not just because an authority tells them that they have to.”
In an interview with Fox 7, DeLoretto-Chudy said she was “taken aback” and felt “disrespected” by the district officials’ accusations leveled against her.
She said a day after posting her viral TikTok video, she was called into the school district’s human resources office and put on administrative leave.
“I had my badge taken away,” DeLoretto-Chudy said. “I was locked out of all the apps, was not allowed to communicate with anybody.”
The teacher said she has seen been fired from her job and denied the chance to finish out the year with her class.
According to district officials, the third-grade teacher violated the district’s social media policy by posting on TikTok.
The district’s employee handbook states that if an employee’s use of electronic communication interferes with the employee’s ability to perform his or her duties, it could lead to termination.
“They made it clear that it wasn’t [interfering with work],” said DeLoretto-Chudy. “It didn’t have anything to do with my instructional practices, or what I was teaching or how I was teaching. And it had everything to do with the fact that I had embarrassed one of my administrators on TikTok.”
The newly-unemployed teacher has been going to the state Capitol to speak out in support of educators, and she said she intends to continue her advocacy work.
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