Teacher on Leave After Questioning Whether School Would Let Pro-Life Students Walk Out, Too
"Would that be allowed by the administration?"
Rocklin High School in Rocklin, California, placed a teacher on paid administrative leave after she let students discuss the politics of the National School Walkout, which took place around the country yesterday morning.
Julianne Benzel told CBS13 that she suspects she got in trouble for suggesting that schools administrators who condoned the student walkout might be practicing a double standard.
"And so 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," said Benzel. "[If] 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?"
Her students saw her point, and the discussion—which took place last week—was fruitful, according to Benzel. But on Wednesday, the teacher received a call that she had been placed on leave.
Officials did not specify what the problem was, but offered the following statement:
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.
Students' free expression rights should vastly outweigh the state's interest in locking kids up all day, and letting them peacefully protest gun violence seemed like the right call to me. But if it's OK to protest, it should also be OK to have a discussion about the protest. As long as no student was unjustly disciplined for political speech, it seems to me like there's little reason for parents to complain or for Benzel to be in trouble.