A highschool teacher in Chicago has been fired for giving a student an ultimatum regarding the Pledge of Allegiance: stand or don’t get in my car.
Vince Ziebarth, who was a drivers education teacher at Eisenhower High School, became upset when a student, Shemar Cooper, refused to stand for the Pledge of Allegiance, according to The Chicago Tribune.
There are seven other driving teachers at the school, and students are reportedly allowed to choose which teachers they want to ride with during the semester.
Cooper previously rode with Ziebarth in February and asked when they would ride again, to which Ziebarth expressed his frustration with him for refusing to stand for the Pledge.
“I told him he can make a choice to sit, but as long as you choose to sit, you will not sit in my (drivers ed) vehicle,” Ziebarth told The Tribune.
Ziebarth’s frustration stemmed from his grandfather’s service in World War II and an uncle that fought in Vietnam.
“I stand to honor the sacrifice and bravery of those who made the ultimate sacrifice for our country. It doesn’t mean America is perfect, or that we agree with everything going on.” Ziebarth indicated that he never imaged that there would be this much controversy surrounding the situation.
“We had an understanding,” he told the Tribune, adding, “I was making a choice. His name never appeared on my sign-up sheet again, so I thought it was over.”
Ziebarth added that he and Cooper often joked with one another about the situation, with the student continuing to ask him when they would ride together, to which Ziebarth’s reply was always: “You know the answer.”
The situation only became controversial when Cooper’s mother, Kelley Porter Turner, claimed that Ziebarth violated her son’s First Amendment rights.
After the mother complained to the school, Ziebarth was fired. He told the Tribune that he was very surprised by the “sudden and extreme repercussions.”
“I was given no options,” he said. “Had the principal told me I had to allow Shemar in my car, I would have.”
Since Ziebarth was fired for his love of country, hundreds of people have created and signed an online petition to help save Ziebarth’s job.
“This wasn’t the first time a teacher at the school had gotten in trouble over their reaction to Cooper’s defiant position regarding the Pledge of Allegiance,” the Tribune reported.
“Early in the school year, another teacher grabbed Cooper’s arm to pull him out of his seat when he wouldn’t stand up. That teacher was reportedly suspended, but not fired.”