Palm City, FL – Police are investigating after a school bus aide grabbed a Make America Great Again (MAGA) hat off a 14-year-old student’s head on March 5.
The incident occurred right after Gunnar Johansson boarded the board to school, WPTV reported.
Although headgear is usually forbidden, Johansson was wearing a navy blue MAGA hat that day as part of the school’s March of Dimes fundraiser whereby students could make a donation for the privilege of wearing a hat, WPIX reported.
The altercation between the 14 year old and the Martin County School District employee was captured on surveillance video.
“Take it off!” the school bus assistant sternly ordered Johansson in the video.
“I can’t wear a hat?” the boy asked, confused.
“No. Take that hat off. Take it off. Now. Put it in your backpack,” the aide told him angrily.
The video showed that when Johansson failed to remove his hat, the bus aide reach over and snatched it off the teen’s head.
“She, like, threatened me with a referral and threatened to turn the bus around. I said ‘write me up, I didn’t do anything wrong’, and then she yanked my hat off. It was crazy,” Johansson told WPTV.
The video showed that the boy kept his hat off for the rest of the bus ride.
Later, the school bus aide tried to tell police that she didn’t know the students were allowed to wear hats that day, WPTV reported.
But the video clearly showed a bus full of kids wearing hats without any hassles from the bus aide.
“I do not have a problem with Gunnar. We have always gotten along,” the bus aide wrote in a statement released by the Martin County Sheriff’s Office. “I am sorry for what I did and I hope he forgives me.”
Johansson’s mom, Jackie Putt, said she got a text from her other child telling her what had happened, so she went to the school to investigate, WPEC reported.
Putt said she tried to get information out of the school district for two days, but all they would tell her was that it was under investigation.
So she turned to the Martin County Sheriff’s Office to pursue assault charges on the school bus aide who touched her son, WPEC reported.
Martin County Sheriff’s Lieutenant Ryan Grimsdale said the sheriff’s department launched an investigation.
Lt. Grimsdale said investigators were reviewing video footage and interviewing witnesses, according to WPEC.
“The crux of our investigation will be the interaction directly, physically with the child,” he said.
After law enforcement got involved, the school district released a statement to the media.
“The district is aware of the family’s allegations. We’re taking it very seriously. We’re in the process of gathering all the facts right now,” said Frank Frangella, Director of Safety and Security for the Martin County School District.
The school district would not comment on the disciplinary status of the bus aide, but Johansson said she had not been back on his bus since the incident.