Teacher placed on leave after asking if schools would support pro-life walkout
A California high school teacher was placed on paid administrative leave this week after she pointed out an apparent double standard surrounding Wednesday’s national school walkout against gun violence.
Thousands of students across the country walked out of classes Wednesday to protest gun violence in honor of the 17 students and teachers who were fatally shot last month at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. The walkout was organized by Youth Empower, a division of the national Women’s March, a left-wing group that has staged two national protests against President Trump.
The majority of schools nationwide agreed not to punish the students participating in the walkout and some even made certain accommodations in support of their efforts.
Julianne Benzel, a history teacher at Rocklin High School in Rocklin, told a local CBS affiliate that she discussed the walkout with students in her class last week and questioned whether schools would be just as supportive of students protesting against abortion.
“I just kind of used the example, which I know it’s really controversial, but I know it was the best example I thought of at the time — a group of students nationwide, or even locally, decided ‘I want to walk out of school for 17 minutes’ and go in the quad area and protest abortion, would that be allowed by our administration?” she said.
Ms. Benzel said she received a letter from the school’s human resources department Wednesday morning, informing her she was being placed on paid administrative leave.
“I didn’t get any backlash from my students. All my students totally understood that there could not be a double standard,” she said. “If you’re going to allow students to walk up and get out of class without penalty, then you have to allow any group of students that wants to protest.”
A school spokeswoman issued a statement provided to CBS that said students and teachers complained about Ms. Benzel’s comments.
“A Rocklin High School teacher has been placed on paid administrative leave due to several complaints from parents and students involving the teacher’s communications regarding today’s student-led civic engagement activities,” the statement read, in part.
Ms. Benzel said she has retained legal counsel and plans to sit down with school administrators Thursday morning, CBS reported.
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