A high school student in Michigan claimed her teacher “aggressively” grabbed a pin she was wearing supporting President Trump.
The family of the junior at Mason High School filed a police report following the incident last week in which the teacher allegedly assaulted the teen during school hours, grabbing her “Women For Trump” pin, according to Fox 47 News.
(Video: YouTube/Fox 47 News)
“I was just really shocked that a teacher especially would do that,” Sadie Earegood told the news outlet. “He’s talking about the ‘Women for Trump’ pin and I said, ‘that’s fine you don’t have to like it, we can have our opinions.'”
She then described the struggle that ensued as the teacher, reported by WILX as media technology instructor Paul Kato, removed the pin from the 16-year-old’s clothing.
“He grabbed it and I pulled and I tried to push his hand away and he grabbed my shoulder, just kind of put his hand there, and then he started pulling more and more and I just started backing up,” Earegood recounted, adding that the teacher then put the pin on his own shirt, upside down, claiming it belonged that way.
“Once we have a complete understanding of the situation, we will take appropriate action,” Mason Superintendent Ronald Drzewicki told Fox 47, though he would not appear on camera.
The student’s mother explained that a police report was filed after the incident.
“I made a criminal assault and larceny report against the teacher,” Capi Earegood said. “He had no right to put his hands on my child over a pin or anything else. The first amendment gives everyone the right to express their freedom of speech. No one should get that upset about someone wearing a political pin.”
The report of an alleged assault on Dec. 5 was being investigated, according to Mason Police Chief Don Hanson while the Mason School District had not yet confirmed the allegations against Kato, who has not returned to school since the incident, with the news outlet. The teacher’s name still appeared on the school website.
Some current and former students came to the teacher’s defense, saying they did not believe the allegations against him.
“Kato isn’t just a teacher, he’s a mentor,” Ina Aker, a senior at Mason High School, told WILX. “It’s been the talk of the school so I just feel like it’s unfair because anyone who has Kato, knows Kato, he’s not that kind of person.”
(Video: YouTube/Fox 47 News)
“Everyone is just outraged. That’s just the best way I can put it. Everyone is just upset because they feel like there’s more to the story than what’s being said,” former student Alexa Martin said of the teacher originally from Nigeria who also coached the high school soccer team.
“Her perspective must have been totally different than what Kato’s perspective was, but from witnesses around it seemed as a jokingly matter,” Aker said.
The Mason student handbook does not directly ban any political items from being displayed by students and states that the school “recognizes the right of students to express themselves.”
“With the right of expression comes the responsibility to do it appropriately. Students may distribute or display, at appropriate times, non-sponsored, non-commercial written material and petitions; buttons, badges, or other insignia; clothing, insignia, and banners; and audio and video materials,” the handbook states.
Earegood plans to continue to express herself and hopes others will learn from the experience.
“I just want him to know that it’s not okay to do that. I want this to be a learning experience for other teachers and I’m not going to stop wearing my political stuff,” the teen said.
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