Teachers’ opinions on the election are getting them into trouble
Teachers around the country are weighing in on the election with varying degrees of appropriateness, and some have been fired or placed on administrative leave as a result of their comments and actions on campus.
A faculty member at a Florida high school was put on administrative leave after an accusation that he said “Don’t make me call Donald Trump to get you sent back to Africa” to a group of African-American students gathered in the hallway.
John Sousa was instructed to leave campus after a parent complained to the school and posted about the incident on Facebook. A spokeswoman for Pasco County Schools told Wfla.com that Sousa, a teacher and coach, was placed on leave while the administration investigates the incident.
A high school math teacher in Alabama is also being investigated after bringing the election into his classroom. Scott Johnson reportedly projected an image of Trump over the famous campaign image of President Obama with the caption “you’re fired” in his classroom Wednesday.
The Tuscaloosa City School District received multiple complaints about the incident and has placed the instructor on leave, according to spokesperson Lesley Bruinton.
In at least one case, school officials may have gone a step further in administering repercussions. A long-term substitute physical education teacher at a middle school in south Los Angeles was fired after he reportedly told students their parents would face deportation under Trump’s presidency, a parent told a CBS affiliate in Los Angeles.
“If you were born here, then your parents got to go,” the teacher said on an audio recording obtained by the affiliate. “Then they will leave you behind and you will be in foster care.”
Elsewhere, faculty had the opposite reaction to the result of the election. In Owasso, Oklahoma, a male teacher was recorded ranting about voters who elected Trump, calling them “uninformed, ignorant, racist pieces of shit” and saying it “pisses [him] off ….” The audio file was sent to the Owasso Reporter.
The principal of Owasso High School, Matt Roberts, did not specify whether the administration is punishing the faculty member in question but made it clear they were taking the incident seriously.
“There’s a right way and a wrong way to voice your opinion, and the classroom setting is not the proper forum for that,” Roberts told the Owasso Reporter.
In California, a history teacher was placed on paid leave after drawing comparisons between Trump and Adolf Hitler in his high school class. After a parent sent an email expressing concern to the administration, Frank Navarro, an expert on the Holocaust and a teacher for 40 years, left campus midday Thursday.
“This feels like we’re trying to squash free speech,” Navarro told the Monterey Herald. “Everything I talk about is factually based. They can go and check it out. It’s not propaganda or bias if it’s based on hard facts.”
A Change.org petition calling for his suspension to be lifted recieved more than 32,000 signatures. The superintendent of the district said Navarro can return to school on Monday, according to the Monterey Herald.
In the days since the election, multiple politically charged outbursts have been reported in schools from students as well, including a group of middle schoolers in Michigan chanting “Build the wall.” A video of the incident went viral on Facebook.
The 74 Million, an organization dedicated to public school issues, tracked 140 incidents of bullying and intimidation related to the outcome of the election.
I have tried to keep an open mind about Trump, but I've seen and experienced racism in my own school more this week than in the last 4 years
— Hunter Cremen (@Cremen_Hunter) November 11, 2016
Trump’s vow to build a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border and crack down on illegal immigration were centerpieces of his campaign, although the president-elect and his advisors may be softening some of those promises.
None of the aforementioned faculty members immediately responded to requests for comment.
Follow Olivia Becker on Twitter: @oliviaLbecker
Cover: Photo via Facebook.com/alexperkins