A Cherokee County high school teacher is facing criticism on social media after she told students they couldn’t wear shirts with the “Make America Great Again” slogan, the school district said Sunday in an emailed statement.
The River Ridge High School math teacher on Thursday erroneously told two students their shirts with campaign slogans were not permitted in class, Cherokee County Schools spokeswoman Barbara Jacoby said.
“Her actions were wrong, as the ‘Make America Great Again’ shirts worn by the students are not a violation of our School District dress code,” Jacoby said.
The teacher, whose name has not been released by the school district, also shared her personal opinion about the campaign slogan during class, which Jacoby said was inappropriate.
“Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian V. Hightower is deeply sorry that this incident happened in one of our schools,” Jacoby said. “It does not reflect his expectation that all students be treated equally and respectfully by our employees.”
After the video taken by students was circulated on social media, local officials such as State Rep. Earl Ehrhart, the longest serving Republican in the Georgia House of Representatives who represents District 36, reacted.
“It’s just shocking – you can’t do that to kids,” Ehrhart told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “That’s so wrong on so many levels. That individual doesn’t need to be anywhere near a classroom ever again.”
Ehrhart said he immediatley reached out to Rep. Mandi Ballinger, who told The AJC she was satisfied by the district’s response.
“The action has been soundly condemned by the Board of Education and the students were apologized to,” Ballinger said. “I'm glad the school district upheld the students’ right to free speech.”
Rep. John Carson, who represents District 46, where River Ridge High School is located, called the incident absolutely despicable.
"It's ironic to me that the political left claims to promote free speech, but then attempts to silence conservative free speech," Carson told The AJC in an email.
The school's principal immediately met with and apologized to these students and their families, Jacoby said.
Jacoby said the district would not discuss disciplinary action against the teacher.
“We can assure you that the students face no disciplinary action,” she said.
Hightower has instructed all principals to meet with their teachers and staff to review the dress code and remind them that their political opinions should not be shared with students.
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