Seriously, Just What is Going On In Our Texas Schools?

Texas Teen Sues School District Over Forced Recitation of MEXICAN Pledge

WFAA’s coverage (Dallas) can be seen here.

Just as the 2011 school year began, Brenda Brinsdon, then a 15-year-old sophomore at Achieve Early College High School (AECHS) in McAllen Texas, was thrust into the national spotlight after she refused to stand up, extend her arms straight out with palms down and recite the Mexican Pledge of Allegiance and sing the Mexican National Anthem.  Reyna Santos, the Spanish 3 teacher, required all her students to recite this allegiance to Mexico.
Brenda Brinsdon  

When the time came for the students to stand up and recite the Mexican pledge, Brenda Brinsdon refused.   Brenda, born in the United States, is the daughter of a Mexican immigrant and an American father.  Brenda is fluent in Spanish and English and is proud of her Mexican heritage, but she is a true blooded American.  So to Brenda, the words of the pledge have a deep meaning. Her conscience and patriotism would not allow her to participate in the assignment.  She believed it was ‘un-American and she was exercising her constitutional right not to be forced to pledge allegiance to Mexico.  The school punished her for her refusal.

As a result, the Thomas More Law Center, a national public interest law firm based in Ann Arbor, Michigan, along with local Texas attorney Jerad Najvar, filed a federal lawsuit on behalf of Brenda and her father William Brinsdon claiming that school officials violated Brenda’s constitutional rights. Click here to read the federal lawsuit.

Ironically, the assignment to recite the Mexican pledge was given during the school’s celebration of Freedom Week, marking the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 terror attacks and also on U.S. Constitution Day.  According to the McAllen School District policy for Special Programs, social studies classes during Freedom Week were required to recite the text of the Declaration of Independence.  However, excusals from recitation are granted for students who have a conscientious objection.

The longstanding Supreme Court decision, West Virginia State Bd. of Educ. v. Barnette, (1943), and the school district’s own policy prohibit a school from compelling students to recite the American Pledge of Allegiance.  However, the School District ignored those rules when Brenda Brinsdon refused to recite the Mexican pledge. 

Brenda’s refusal was not well received by her teacher, Reyna Santos, or the school principal, Yvette Cavasos.  Both tried to coerce her to recite the Mexican pledge, saying this was just an assignment.  Brenda attempted to discuss reasons for her refusal to pledge allegiance to a country other than the United States with both Santos and Cavasos. When Brenda did not back down, she was punished.

Richard Thompson, President and Chief Counsel of the Thomas More Law Center (TMLC), commented, “Too many Americans—including those of Mexican descent—have suffered and died protecting our nation. It’s astonishing that this Texas school would deny Brenda her right of conscience and free speech not to pledge allegiance to a foreign country.  There is a sad trend in public schools across our nation to undermine American patriotism.  But it’s encouraging to see students like Brenda stand up for America despite pressure from school officials.”


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Santos gave Brenda an alternate assignment; write an essay on the Independence of Mexico.  While performing above average on all previous assignments in the class, Brenda completed this assignment on time but was given a failing grade. She was also required to sit in class over the next several days and listen to student after student reciting the Mexican pledge. 

Following the incident, Brenda was involuntarily removed from her Spanish class.  She spent the class hour in the school’s office, even though she requested to return to the classroom.  Brenda was also given a failing grade on her report card, which was later corrected. 

Brenda videotaped the class on her cell phone and brought it home to show her father.  Click here to see Brenda’s cell phone video.  Mr. Brinsdon attempted to contact several school officials but he never received a return call. Click here to see local news coverage.

The lawsuit claims the school district and school officials deprived Brenda of her right to freedom of speech and equal protection of the law by discriminating against and unjustly punishing her because of her viewpoint.  The lawsuit names the McAllen Independent School District, AECHS Principal, and Spanish teacher Reyna Santos as defendants. 

The Thomas More Law Center defends and promotes America’s Judeo-Christian heritage and moral values, including the religious freedom of Christians, time-honored family values, and the sanctity of human life.  It supports a strong national defense and an independent and sovereign United States of America.  The Law Center accomplishes its mission through litigation, education, and related activities.  It does not charge for its services.  The Law Center is supported by contributions from individuals, corporations and foundations, and is recognized by the IRS as a section 501(c)(3) organization.  You may reach the Thomas More Law Center at (734) 827-2001 or visit our website at

SOURCE Thomas More Law Center


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16 thoughts on “Seriously, Just What is Going On In Our Texas Schools?

  1. Was saying the Mesican pledge a part of the daily ritual of the school as a whole or just this class? If it was school-wide then that is wrong. If it was something that the Spanish III teacher (Santos) did on a daily basis throughout the school year, then that to was wrong. If it was something that was a part of the curriculum for a particular asssignment, I think it was an overreaction on everybody’s part. In other words, the only people that will benefit from this are the lawyers (money-wise). As far as the salute, dont forget that in the period leading up to WW II, the Mesican govt. had pretty close ties with Nazi Germany. Maybe thats where the salute came in?

    • having to recite a pledge (study it to know it to repeat it) would appear to be an insult for me as an american. i studied to languages in high school spanish and german and never was i expected to recite their pledges. my daughter went to a private school the first 7 years of her life and she too was not required to repeat the mexican or any other spanish country pledge. was was the mexican pledge required and not a “true spanish” pledge for spain not chosen? i was taught that spanish was from spain as we were taught about that culture specifically.

    • You don’t seem to understand the issue. She tried to explain to her teacher and the principal her reasons for not wanting to pledge allegiance to Mexico whether it was an assignment or not. The teacher broke the law! If she were testing the young lady, take her objection into consideration and have her recite something else!!!!!

  2. Her parents I am sure are very proud of their young lady for standing up for what she believes in and shame on the teacher and school for punishing her. Texas is Texas and yes we have many people from Mexico, but this is the United States and our pledge and lanuage has and will always be English and a pledge to the freedom our fathers have fought so hard for. This teacher needs to be removed from that school and teaching since she believes she needs to force her beliefs on to these students. Sham on McAllen for allowing this to happen they are part of Texas not Mexico.

  3. Ithink the only pledge that should be said in american schools , is the American plege of alligance, if they wish to resite the Mexican plege of allegiance then go back to Mexico whereit will be more fitting

  4. I am from Germany and went to High School in 1987 closed to McAllen. Being a foreign exchange-student I had to learn a lot about the culture over there. First of all: this is not Texas/USA, it is the Rio Grande Valley next to Mexican border – most people are Mexican in 1st, 2nd or 3rd generation and they live a mixture of Mexican and US culture and even speak so – TexMex. So I started to learn Spanish, because only knowing English is not enough at that place. Since 25 yrs I keep coming back to visit there and can tell that the Valley developed to become more and more Mexican. A lot of Mexican people moved there and most Americans can probably even not imagine how life is going on over there
    When I went to High School it was self-evident for me to learn the Preamble, the Pledge to the Flag and the “Star-Spangled Banner”. I was not forced at any time to say the Pledge or sing the anthem, but most people expected me to do so, because it was considered normally, everybody does that – and I did it, because it felt right to me to do so when living there. Not with the hand on my heart, but in respect to the country that gave me the opportunity to learn about another way of living. And I would have done that with the Mexican pledge and anthem, too. During that stay in the Valley and plenty of short-trips to Mexico I learned something for life: only if you can understand the culture of the place you live at, you understand more from other people of this big world and you are a world-citizen – and only if you accommodate, you are home. And I always feel home in the Valley , this great US-Mexican place on earth

    • You just can’t get your story straight can you. 1st you wasn’t required to recite the pledge, and then……you say you did it because it was expected.

    • If you are a “world-citizen”, then you have no home, sorry! We in this country ARE home! And anyone who lives here is also home, REGARDLESS of where they come from. THAT’S what America is all about – being one great big Melting Pot, at least that’s what I learned when I was in school. Now, everyone wants to subject all born-and-bred Americans to THEIR culture and divide everything up by language, race, even their clothing. It’s all about multiculturalism, which is a BAD thing, not a good thing, for a society. Who cares how close people are to the U.S./Mexican border. If someone lives on the U.S. side, they’re AMERICAN, and they should speak ENGLISH, and recite OUR Pledge of Allegiance! If they live on the Mexican side, they should speak Spanish (or whatever it is that they speak), and recite the MEXICAN Pledge of Allegiance. Period! That’s what borders are for, not so people like you can tell the rest of us to just forget about them and tell us “live happily ever after”. I, too, have been to Mexico – many times – and that place is a shitheap! It’s no wonder so many of those people want desperately to come here, but they have to do it RIGHT, just like MY ancestors did. And just like my ancestors did, Mexicans need to leave their language and culture at the door.

    • Heidi, I applaud you for Voluntarily reciting the American Pledge of Allegiance, while living in the USA. No one forced you to do it, however this is the United States, not Mexico and NO ONE has the right to force their beliefs on another person. This young lady is an American citizen and was forced to recite the Mexican pledge of allegiance in the USA, against her will. She held on to her principles and refused…..hooray for patriotism!!! We can all learn a lesson from this as Americans!

  5. I hope she wins the lawsuit and the principal and spanish teacher are both abmonished for their behavior toward the girls refusal to participate…giving her a failing grade etc. Then they should be abmonished for forcing the students to recite allegience to any country but the one they are in. While on the boarder , if they don’t like it here its a short swim “home” if they prefer…you can’t have it both ways…

  6. I think she should win her law suit and be appropriately compensated for the idiotic attitudes of the school district. The school board should have to personally give her an apology in person in front of the entire school and the principal and teacher fired! Yes its stiff but so was her punishment!!!

  7. Principle and teacher should be fired immediately!! What a couple of idiots!! Try reciting our pledge of allegiance in Mexico!! DAMN IDIOTS! IDIOTAS!!

  8. No one should be forced to recite the Pledge of Allegiance to any country. This is the United States of America…damn it! How dare this teacher force a student to pledge allegiance to a foreign country and to extend her arm out…..? are we living in Nazi Germany…? Thank goodness for the US Constitution which protects the basic rights of every American citizen!!! This school needs some serious overhauling, not to mention the teacher in question AND the principal should be fired! This is the United States….not Mexico. If they like the Mexican pledge of allegiance so much, they can go back to Mexico and recite it everyday for the rest of their lives!!!

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