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Georgia Teacher Reprimanded For Banning Trump Shirts

| by Robert Fowler

A Georgia high school teacher has been reprimanded after she forbid students from wearing paraphernalia associated with President Donald Trump. It remains unclear whether the teacher was let go.

On Aug. 31, math teacher Lyn Oletsky of the River Ridge High School in Cherokee County School District was filmed chastising two students for wearing Trump campaign T-shirts emblazoned with the phrase: "Make America Great Again."

Oletsky told the two students that their attire was not allowed in her classroom and equated their iconography with a Nazi swastika. Video of the interaction went viral and prompted a response from Cherokee County superintendent Brian Hightower.

On Sept. 5, Hightower released a memo to all school district employees noting that they are prohibited from sharing their political opinions with students or with anyone during their general job duties, Patch reports.

"The First Amendment absolutely guarantees each individual the right to engage in political speech," Hightower said. "However, employees may never express personal political views or campaign during school hours or in their capacity as an employee after hours."

Principal Darrell Herring of River Ridge personally met with the two students involved in the incident, as well as their parents. Both Herring and Hightower subsequently released statements apologizing for Oletsky's conduct. District spokesperson Barbara Jacoby issued a statement clarifying that the students would not be reprimanded and that Oletsky had broken protocol.

"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.

"This speech can disrupt instruction, undermine authority, as well as trust and respect between the school and community, damage working relationships ... and can infringe upon students' rights to express their political views," Hightower said.

On Sept. 8, Herring disclosed that Oletsky was no longer teaching the math class and that a substitute had been appointed, AJC.com reports.

It remains unclear if Olestky was fired. Jacoby stated, "Should she resign or be recommended by the superintendent for termination, it will be on the school board meeting agenda."

The River Ridge school board is slated to hold its next meeting Sept. 14.

On Aug. 15, Trump ignited controversy when he defended some participants of a white supremacist rally held in Charlottesville, Virginia. The gathering of the Ku Klux Klan, neo-Nazis and alt-right members had drawn national attention and condemnation.

During a press conference at Trump Tower, the president asserted that some members of the white supremacist rally were only protesting the removal of a Confederate monument in Charlottesville.

"You're changing culture and you had people, and I'm not talking about the neo-Nazis and white nationalists, OK?" Trump said, according to CNBC. "And the press has treated them absolutely unfairly ... I'm sure in that group there were some bad ones."

Sources: AJC.com, CNBCPatch / Featured Image: Pixabay / Embedded Images: Gage Skidmore/Flickr (2)

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