New Jersey Teen Alleges He Was Targeted by Teacher for Visible Trump Re-Election Flag

A New Jersey teen sparked a number of discussions last week, when teachers asked him to take down a flag supporting President Donald Trump's 2020 re-election campaign.

On October 8, Anthony Ribeiro, a 17 year-old student at Toms River North High School, had a Trump 2020 flag in the background for his virtual classes. He told Jersey Shore Online that he arrived early for his final class of the day: chemistry, when the teacher asked that he remove the flag.

Ribeiro told NBC News that he "looked up at him and kind of just looked back down like he didn't hear him," but the teacher told him that he'd need to leave if he didn't remove the flag, and he left.

Ribeiro's mother Tara Jost said she was outraged by the teacher's request. "I was actually shocked. I couldn't believe that a teacher would ask my son to take down something that was in my home," she told NBC.

The student said that the following day, an English teacher asked the same thing, but explained that it may be a distraction, and he was happy to remove it as requested.

In a statement received by Newsweek, the district said that they were reviewing what happened internally. "Regarding the recent incident at High School North, 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," the statement said.

Jost told Newsweek in a Facebook message that she thinks there's a simple solution. "We really would just like an apology," she wrote.

Ribeiro told Jersey Shore Online that he felt that being asked to remove the flag was hypocritical on the teacher's part, because he spoke about climate change during the first week. The student alleged that the teacher said he was voting for former Vice President Joe Biden in the upcoming election, because of his stance on climate change. "In learning, you need to have politics in social studies or history but teachers have to be down the middle when it comes to being a Democrat or Republican," he told Jersey Shore Online.

Jost said that they don't plan on taking down the flag anytime soon. "[I]t went back up as soon as I came home that day about 1/2 hour after English class. It will remain up. The assistant superintendent agreed with me to put it back up as well," she wrote in a Facebook message.

Ribeiro said he felt like freedom of expression was important for students to be able to exercise. "It's important for young people to be able to express their views it's our first amendment right," he told NBC.

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A flag showing support of President Donald Trump is seen hanging on a fence on October 13, 2020 in Louisville, Kentucky. A New Jersey student showing a Trump 2020 flag during an online class stirred controversy in his school. Getty/Jon Cherry