LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — A protest took place Thursday morning in support of an LAUSD educator who alleges he was placed in “teacher jail” because of two student-submitted science fair projects.
“We’re . . . wearing duct tape over our mouths and a sign that says, ‘We will not speak until we reinstate Schiller,'” freshman Sara Moran said.
Greg Schiller, a science teacher at downtown’s Ramon C. Cortines School of Visual and Performing Arts, was suspended in February, the same month the students entered their projects in the competition.
According to reports, one of the entries was an air cannon and the other was an electromagnetic coil gun, which freshman Asa Ferguson submitted and was later confiscated.
“It has appliances in roller coasters and spaceships. It’s been theorized to be able to launch spaceships in space for cheaper,” Ferguson said.
Ferguson believes the word “gun” caused his project to be pulled.
“I think that if I had said it was an electromagnetic propulsion system it would not have been taken out,” he said.
Asked if the school district has formally told him why he’s in “teacher jail,” Schiller said, “In writing, no. I have not received a formal written note as to why I’m in ‘teacher jail.'”
In a statement, Tom Waldman, the director of media and communication at the Los Angeles Unified School District, said, “There is an ongoing investigation, therefore, we cannot comment. It is the practice of the Los Angeles Unified School District to reassign an employee to a non-classroom setting when there are allegations related to student safety.”
Upset parents say Schiller’s students, who are now preparing for Advanced Placement exams, are unprepared for tests due to his absence.
“He’s not even allowed to send in lesson plans,” mother Judy Bell said.
Another protest was scheduled for Friday morning. An online petition has also been established.