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Naples principal changes tune on anthem

Anouncement was a misunderstanding
Posted at 10:38 PM, Sep 15, 2016
and last updated 2016-09-16 06:42:04-04

An announcement by Lely High School principal Ryan Nemeth over the national anthem was misunderstood by school officials and students.

"We're not trying to restrict anyone's first amendment rights," said Collier County Schools Spokesman Greg Turchetta.

The confusion started last week after students were being disruptive at a volleyball game.  That prompted Nemeth to issue a warning to students the next day during morning announcements.

"You will show absolutely no disrespect, you will stand and stay absolutely quiet," he said.

But the message was directed at students who were being loud, not those who didn't want to stand.

"Obviously in that statement, his language went a little far and his tone went a little far, in telling kids they were obligated to stand," said Turchetta.

Lely students said the principal changed his tune, telling them they don't have to stand for the anthem.

"He was talking about that he doesn't care if you don't stand anymore, he's trying to give you a chance to do what you believe in," said Jose Lacoste.

Something Lacoste, and his fellow teammates on the Lely football team appreciate, since they support San Francisco 49ers Quarterback Colin Kapernick.  He has been kneeling during the national anthem before each NFL game.

"It's just showing that black people have been fighting injustice for a long time, and a famous person is finally letting people know that," said James Guerrier.

Turchetta says so far no student in the district has protested during the anthem.

Florida law allows for students to opt out of standing for the pledge of allegiance, as long as their parents submit written permission to the school district.