Teacher put on leave for questioning school walkout – New York Post
A California high school teacher says she was “aghast” to learn she was placed on leave over comments she made about National School Walkout Day.
Julianne Benzel, a Rocklin High School teacher, said that administrators’ decision Wednesday followed a debate she held in her history class about the nationwide school protest supporting gun control reform, news station KOVR reported.
She said she never discouraged students from participating in the 17-minute walkout on Wednesday, but school administrators told her they disagreed with her remarks.
“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 told the news station.
The history teacher claimed she was only trying to encourage discussion among her students.
“I didn’t get any backlash from my students,” Benzel said. “All my students totally understood that there could not be a double standard.”
On National Walkout Day, she received a letter from the human resources department notifying her that she was being put on paid administrative leave.
Benzel, who has since retained legal counsel, said the school’s decision has raised questions about First Amendment rights.
“I feel like if we were to go to school and say something like I want to walk out maybe for abortion rights, then you know they probably wouldn’t let us because that’s more of a conservative push,” student Nick Wade said. “But someone wants to say let’s walk out for gun control then the school’s going to go with it because it’s more of a popular view.”