Anthony Ribeiro is a 17-year-old high school honor student in New Jersey who was kicked out of class because he had a Trump flag on a wall behind him. His school switched to virtual learning distance learning due to the covid-19 crisis and subsequent lockdowns all over the US. Anthony goes to Toms River High School and said that two of his teachers have asked him to remove the sign. He is now demanding an apology.
First, he was asked on October 8 by his chemistry teacher to either take the poster down or leave the class. The teacher said, “If you’re not gonna take it down, it’s unacceptable, and I’m gonna have to ask you to leave the class for today.” Anthony said he didn’t want to take it down, so he waved goodbye and left the virtual classroom.
The very next day his English teacher also asked him to remove the sign, saying it could be offensive to other students in the class. Again, Anthony didn’t want to, but worrying about his grades, he did. He now says he regrets this decision. “Looking back I kind of regret it because I have the right in my house to do what I believe. This should not happen to anyone.”
That is right, this shouldn’t happen to anyone. That flag is his property and he is in his own home. Those teachers had no authority to ask him to remove his property from his own home. There is no justification for this.
Anthony’s mom, Tara Jost, was very angry with the teachers. She said it was absurd and that those teachers owe him an apology. She said, “To me, it’s not about politics. It’s about something in our home that we had, and my son was taken away from his studies for it. It’s very upsetting to me and very frustrating that this teacher would do that.”
After reaching out to the school, the vice-principal told Anthony and his mom that he didn’t do anything wrong but that the teachers did. The vice-principal told Anthony he could leave the flag up.
The school district says that Anthony is not in violation of any school policy or code of conduct related to virtual distance learning. They also said that the attempts by the teachers to get him to remove the flag do go against district policy. The district is working with Anthony, his mom, and the teachers to “move forward” and get this resolved.
Anthony said, “I really just want it to not happen again because it is horrible. For somebody to be suppressed and to feel negated because she or he doesn’t follow the same ideas that another person has.”