A high school teacher for the Manatee County School District in Florida has been removed from his classroom after a TikTok video emerged of him yelling at a student for not standing for the Pledge of Allegiance and insinuating that he did so because he was non-American.
The video is captioned: “my friend didn’t stand for the pledge and this what the teacher said.”
In the video, a white teacher, identified in local media reports as Robert Reiber, is seen standing over a student who appears to be Latino. Reiber is berating the student.
“You are going to sit there on your butt?” Reiber yells.
The student doesn’t respond.
“If you want to do something, just get up and do it,” the teacher adds. “I will defend my country to the very end.”
“I was born here,” the student responds.
“You were born here? And you won’t stand up for the flag?” the teacher responds, throwing his hands in the air before the video ends.
Students are not required to stand during the pledge.
According to a 1943 ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court in the case of “West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette,” the course found that forcing a student to recite the Pledge of Allegiance, then punishing them if they did not, violated First Amendment rights to free speech and the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.
The case was brought by students who were Jehovah’s Witnesses, who argued that pledging allegiance to the U.S. would violate the tenets of their faith.
Although there are calls for Reibert, 61, to be fired, he has has been reassigned to a position that doesn’t have contact with students, KIRO7 reported.
“The school district’s Office of Professional Standards is thoroughly investigating the incident in accordance with district and state due process policies and procedures. The School District of Manatee County strongly condemns any language or behavior that degrades, humiliates or insults any individuals — most especially the young people, families and community we have the privilege of serving,” School District of Manatee County spokesman Michael Barber told The Bradenton Herald.
Screenshot of teacher and student from TikTok video