Toms River student told to remove Trump flag from his bedroom wall
A Toms River High School North student said he was kicked out of his online chemistry class and chastised by an English teacher for having a Trump campaign flag visible on his wall during remote-learning classes.
Anthony Ribeiro, who recently turned 17, told New Jersey 101.5 he was asked to take down the Trump 2020 behind him as the class got underway.
The junior said he has taken an interest in politics during the pandemic and the flag was a birthday gift from his aunt.
"I went through the whole day without anybody saying anything. Everybody respected it, I guess, or they didn't say anything," Ribeiro said.
Ribeiro said his chemistry teacher asked him to remove the flag, saying "there's no place in my classroom for politics and to be controversial. If you're not going to take it down today I'm going to have to ask you to leave the class or I'm going to kick you out."
"At that point, I waved good bye and then I was gone," Ribeiro said.
The next day, an English teacher asked Ribeiro to take down the flag because it was a "distraction to other kids that might not have the same political views," he said. Ribeiro complied, but his mother was not pleased.
"I got very upset with him," Tara Yost said. "I said, 'Why did you do that? He said, 'Mom, I'm nervous."
Yost said that she spoke to an assistant superintendent who Yost said was in "total agreement with me" that the teachers were wrong. She also told the administrator the flag was going back up.
Toms River Regional School District spokesman Michael Kenny said the district is handling the matter internally.
"The student was not in violation of any general code of conduct or any policy specifically related to virtual learning. We have worked with and are continuing to work with all involved parties to resolve the issue and move forward," Kenny said in a written statement.
Ribeiro said that his chemistry teacher's request was odd because the teacher has talked about politics during class.
"He talked about how the Democrats are the only party that believes ... and wants to help global warming and help us fight through it and the Republicans don't believe in it and don't want to look at the facts or look at the science," Ribeiro said.
Toms River went to a hybrid schedule for students on Oct. 5. Ribeiro said students are not supposed to show anything "offensive or inappropriate" during the video sessions. Students also should be dressed for school, keep their cameras on and microphones muted during class "to make it as school-esque as possible," he said.
Ribeiro said that he enjoys talking politics and having "friendly debates' with friends who have different views. He said his own views are still developing.
"I barely knew what was a Democrat or a Republican and I was kind of in the middle with views on both sides," Ribeiro said.