An email was sent to middle schools and high schools in the School District of Manatee County reminding athletic directors that it is against district rules for student athletes not to stand during the national anthem unless they have special permission.
Superintendent Diana Greene on Tuesday confirmed that the email was sent out but said she did not send it. Greene said it was an old email the district has used before, and it was sent out by district Supervisor of Athletics Jason Montgomery.
The reason the email was sent now is because of what is happening across the nation in the National Football League and other venues where kneeling in political protest has occurred, Greene said.
“In our Code of Student Conduct it clearly states that all students will stand for the national anthem,” Greene said just before the start of Tuesday’s school board meeting. “However, students can be excused from standing if there is a letter from their parents indicating a specific reason why their student would not stand. And, if we have that documented information, then we honor what that parent has requested.”
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“If there is any situation that is happening on our school campus, whether it is the national anthem for a volleyball game, we need to make certain what is our stance,” Greene said. “Our stance is our Code of Student Conduct and that was the purpose of the athletic director assuring that all the athletic directors at each school knew what that policy is.”
Greene pointed out that varsity football players are not on the field at the time of the anthem.
“The varsity football teams have always stayed in the locker room during the national anthem and they come out after the pregame activities, which includes the national anthem,” Greene said.
The sending of the email was not sparked by any current violation of a student not honoring the anthem, school district attorney Mitchell Teitelbaum said Tuesday.
“To my knowledge, there hasn’t been an incident like that,” Teitelbaum said.
School spokesman Michael Barber also said he had heard of no student not standing for the anthem.
Montgomery was not immediately available for comment.