The principal for an East Baton Rouge Parish high school has been reassigned in the school system after being on leave for the last couple of weeks.

The school district announced on Tuesday that Rob Howle, the former principal of Liberty High, was removed from that position but was still employed by the school system.

The demotion comes after Howle was put on leave in mid-October after a text message of his was shared online which appeared to show him demanding that student-athletes stand for the national anthem.

The crux of the conversation entails Howle saying the school should consider making standing for the national anthem mandatory and that kneeling before football games was "embarrassing."

"Playing Football is a privilege not a right," the message read in part. "If they don't want to stand they can turn in their equipment and we will refund their money."

The school system, however, released a statement which in part said the following:

In accordance with the Student Rights and Responsibilities handbook, the East Baton Rouge Parish School System respects students' rights to freedom of speech and expression and promotes responsible citizenship.

The school system also cited its policy concerning the Pledge of Allegiance.

At the beginning of each school day, time shall be permitted for those students and teachers desiring to do so to observe a brief time in silent meditation (not intended or identified as a religious exercise), which shall not exceed five minutes, and for reciting the Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag.

Every assembly or meeting in each school should begin with the Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag and with the playing or the singing of the National Anthem, and all students shall be encouraged to learn the words of the National Anthem. Throughout the playing (singing) of the National Anthem and/or the recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag, students shall be encouraged to exhibit respectful behavior.

Assistant Principal Shawonna Ross will serve as the interim principal for Liberty High until a new principal is selected, the district said.

It is also unknown what new position Howle has been re-assigned to within the district.

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