Hidden Oaks Middle School student Gunnar Johansson said he wore a Make America Great Again hat to class for hat day “to show my pride in Trump America.”
But the MAGA hat apparently triggered a Martin County bus aide, who was caught on surveillance video berating Johansson and snatching the hat off the 14-year-old’s head, WPTV reports.
The Florida student explained students were allowed to wear hats to school on March 5 in exchange for a donation to March of Dimes, and he was one of several kids on the bus wearing hats. The video shows the bus aide immediately shout at Johansson as he boarded the bus and demand he remove the MAGA hat – a blue cap with “TRUMP” in white and “Make America Great Again” in smaller red letters below.
“Immediately, I heard the bus aide tell me knock it off, take that hat off,” Johansson said.
“Boy, if you don’t take that hat off this bus … take it off. Take that hat off … take that hat off,” the aide yelled in the surveillance video.
Johansson asked politely: “I can’t wear a hat?”
The aide insisted he remove it, though the teen hesitated.
“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 teen contends several other students with hats on the bus were allowed to keep them on. Gunnar and other students texted their parents about the confrontation, and the school’s principal heard from them shortly after.
“There wasn’t anything wrong for him to wear a Donald Trump hat, he’s our sitting president,” Gunnar’s mother, Jackie Putt, told WPBF, which identified the aide as Delores Matheny.
“I immediately went to the school,” Putt told WPTV. “I needed to know what my son just went through and what she did to my son.”
Putt spoke with the principal and Johansson took notes from the incident, and the two filed a police report when school officials refused to release the bus surveillance video, according to the news site.
Putt said she believes Matheny was motivated by politics, and she wants the aide to be held accountable for her actions.
Ironically, Martin County school officials allegedly told Putt they wouldn’t release the video of the incident until the conclusion of an internal investigation, then released the video to the media anyway.
“The district is aware of the family’s allegations. We’re taking it very seriously,” the district’s director of safety and security, Frank Frangella, told WPTV. “We’re in the process of gathering all the facts right now.”
Martin County Sheriff’s Office Lt. Ryan Grimsdale is now reviewing the video and interviewing witnesses for a potential assault charge.
“The crux of our investigation will be the interaction directly, physically with the child and how that panned out,” he told WPTV.
Johansson told WPBF he believes there’s an important lesson to be learned from the ordeal.
“You can have a different political view, you know, not liking the … president,” he said. “But you don’t have to scream at them and almost assault them because you don’t like it.”
Matheny’s current employment status is unclear. The incident is one of the latest in a string of attacks on Trump supporting students at schools across the country.
In just the last couple of months, students with MAGA gear have been attacked by other students or censored by school staff in Oklahoma, California, Minnesota, and Arizona, EAGnews reports.