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Teacher Fired After Criticizing Student Who Wouldn’t Stand for Pledge of Allegiance

A student who exercised his First Amendment right has led to a teacher losing his job.

Vince Ziebarth, a driver’s ed teacher at Eisenhower High School, in Blue Island, Ill., has been let go after he confronted a student who refused to stand for the Pledge of Allegiance back in September.

Ziebarth, who’s been at the school for three years, took 15-year-old sophomore Shemar Cooper out driving for a lesson last month, but informed the boy he wouldn’t get back in the car with him as long as he sat during 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 Chicago Tribune. “I did not tell him what to do.”

Cooper’s mother is incensed by Ziebarth’s actions. “If my son didn’t say anything to me, (the teacher) would have continued — and that’s bullying,” she said. “He violated my son’s First Amendment rights,” she said.

This marks the second time a school official has taken issue with Cooper — previously, another teacher was suspended after trying to make him stand by grabbing his arm.

Ziebarth was relieved of his duties after Cooper’s mother informed the school what had happened. For his part, he claims he spoke with Cooper in private to express his point of view.

“I told him I stand to honor the sacrifice and bravery of those who made the ultimate sacrifice for our country,” Ziebarth said. “It doesn’t mean America is perfect, or that we agree with everything going on. We had an understanding. He was making a choice, and I was making a choice. His name never appeared on my sign-up sheet again, so I thought it was over.”

The matter may not yet be over — students have rallied to Ziebarth’s side by circulating a petition in his defense.

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