Mason, MI – A 16-year-old Michigan high school student told police she was assaulted by a teacher who tore a “Women for Trump” pin off of her shirt.
Sadie Earegood told police the incident occurred on Dec. 5 when a media technology teacher, Paul Kato, approached her during a class at Mason High School, WILX reported.
Earegood said that Kato told her that he didn’t like the pro-President Donald Trump pin she was wearing
“I was just really shocked that a teacher would especially do that,” she told WILX. “He’s talking about the ‘Women for Trump’ pin and I said, ‘that’s fine you don’t have to like it, we can have our opinions.'”
But then Kato reached for the pin to try and take it off Earegood’s chest and the student fought back.
“He grabbed it and I pulled, I tried to push his hand away and he grabbed my shoulder,” Earegood told WILX. “[He] just kind of put his hand there, and then he started pulling more and more and I just started backing up.”
The student said Kato then pinned the pink “Women for Trump” political button upside down on his own shirt and told Earegood it belonged that way, WILX reported.
The school district has said they are investigating the incident.
“Once we have a complete understanding of the situation, we will take appropriate action,” Mason School Superintendent Ronald Drzewicki told WILX.
In the meantime, Mason Police Chief Don Hanson confirmed that Earegood and her mother, Capi Earegood, have filed a police report about the incident.
“I made a criminal assault and larceny report against the teacher,” Capi Earegood told WILX. “He had no right to put his hands on my child over a pin or anything else. The First Amendment gives everyone the right to express their freedom of speech. No one should get that upset about someone wearing a political pin.”
WILX reported that students said that Kato hadn’t been seen at Mason High School since the incident occurred; however, the school district refused to confirm the teacher’s absence.
Mason Police Chief Don Hanson confirmed that a report had been filed with the police.
The school district’s dress code doesn’t forbid the wearing political slogans and allows students to “express themselves,” including by wearing political buttons, according to WILX.
Earegood said she planned to continue to express her political views.
“I just want him to know that it’s not okay to do that,” the 16 year old told WILX. “I want this to be a learning experience for other teachers, and I’m not going to stop wearing my political stuff.”
The teacher’s attorney told WILX that they had no comment while the district was investigating the accusation.
Kato, who is originally from Nigeria, is also the high school’s soccer coach.