COLUSA, Calif. — A Northern California high school teacher threatened to kick a student out of a virtual class if he didn’t remove a “Trump 2020” campaign flag from his camera view.
The 16-year-old left the Zoom meeting for his Colusa High School chemistry class before the teacher could remove him, according to the boy’s mother, Tiffany. The teen was working from his bedroom where the political flag is pinned to the wall, his mother said.
Another student in the classroom took a recording of the virtual classroom as the teacher counted to 15. This is the only reported video of the class, which shows Tiffany’s son laying on his bed with the political flag in view.
“With the distance learning we are all forced to do because of the new color chart, the school district has not addressed the students' rights in their own home to the teachers or to us as parents,” Tiffany said in an email statement.
The 16-year-old has not been punished for the incident, however, his mother said she has growing frustrations about Colusa High School’s policies since the school moved to all distance learning due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The district has not set out clear guidelines for distance learning that refer to students' backgrounds. Tiffany wants the district to be more clear.
When requesting a comment, a Colusa High School employee referred ABC10 to the code of conduct. However, requests for comment were not immediately returned from Colusa High School, the Colusa Unified School District (Colusa USD), or the Colusa County Office of Education.
“The Governing Board believes that free inquiry and exchange of ideas are essential parts of a democratic education,” the Colusa Unified School District student handbook writes regarding free speech. “The Board respects students' rights to express ideas and opinions, take stands on issues, and support causes, even when such speech is controversial or unpopular.”
The Colusa USD student handbook addresses free speech rules on-campus, off-campus, and “online media” – but does not explicitly refer to distance learning.
The school policies generally allow students the right to free speech which includes the wearing of buttons, badgers, and other insignia. The policy bans the use of fighting words and any “expressions” that are obscene, libelous, or slanderous.
Continue the conversation with Giacomo on Facebook.