A high school teacher in Northern California threatened to kick a student out of a virtual class unless he removed a “Trump 2020” flag from his camera background.
According to KOVR-TV, the 16-year-old student was in his bedroom participating in an online class for Colusa High School when his chemistry teacher took issue with the sign and demanded that he take it down or adjust the camera view.
“Since school has begun, my son has had this Trump flag hanging in his background,” the student’s mother, Tiffany, told the news outlet. Their last names have been withheld from reports.
According to the student’s mother, the teacher told her son, “You can sit up, remove the flag, or reposition your camera within the next 15 seconds or I’m kicking you out of class.”
In a video of the incident, recorded by another student and included in the news video below, the teacher can be heard counting to 15 seconds while repeating the threat.
As the video shows, the teacher wasn’t able to complete the count before the student decided to sign off from the class on his own. He can be seen waving to the camera before the screen goes black.
According to KOVR-TV, the teacher has since apologized. The student’s mother said she isn’t blaming the teacher so much as she is the school board for not giving clear guidance on the issue.
“She is a new teacher and it’s a mistake,” she said. “There hasn’t been any guidance given to her as a teacher for the school.”
Tiffany said that when she reached out to a board representative requesting a clarification for the code of conduct, she was rejected.
“He flat out told me no. We’ve just not been given any guidance,” she said.
The Colusa County Code of Conduct includes a dress code ban for clothing with “vulgar, obscene, or profane” messages, or messages which “degrade any race or other group of individuals” — but nowhere in the document does it mention anything about politics or campaigns.
State Education Code 48907 states: “[Students] of the public schools, including charter schools, shall have the right to exercise freedom of speech and of the press including, but not limited to, the use of bulletin boards, the distribution of printed materials or petitions, the wearing of buttons, badges, and other insignia, and the right of expression in official publications, whether or not the publications or other means of expression are supported financially by the school or by use of school facilities, except that expression shall be prohibited which is obscene, libelous, or slanderous. Also prohibited shall be material that so incites pupils as to create a clear and present danger of the commission of unlawful acts on school premises or the violation of lawful school regulations, or the substantial disruption of the orderly operation of the school.”
The student has reportedly not been punished over the incident.