Hundreds of students have walked out of a New Jersey high school to protest the suspension of a teacher who spoke out about security concerns after the Florida massacre, according to reports.
Timothy Locke, an AP history teacher at Cherry Hill High East, was suspended last week after he aired his concerns about a shooting like the one that claimed 17 lives at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, NBC 10 reported.
Locke, 59, said he was placed on administrative leave after a student was upset that he discussed the Florida shooting in class and expressed his fear that a similar crime could happen at Cherry Hill.
“The bottom line is that I was very concerned about the security at my school,” Locke said Monday, Philly.com reported. “I was adamantly concerned with the welfare of my students.”
Locke said he has previously mentioned that Cherry Hill East has been compared to Columbine, based on demographics. He also has voiced concerns about the lack of armed officers in the school.
About 500 students signed a petition requesting that the popular educator is reinstated.
“I absolutely thought something needed to be done in support of my history teacher,” said Justin Prechodko, the student who organized the petition. “This man just meant too much to me for me to sit down and watch this injustice happen.”
The demonstration took place Tuesday despite claims by some students that principal Dennis Perry threatened to suspend them or cancel their senior trip and prom if they marched.
“I think we’re allowed to have our own opinion,” student Angela Spiegel told NBC 10.
On Monday night, irate students voiced their concerns to school district chief Joseph Meloche. Parents said they wanted better security and supported their children’s stance.
“They decide to walk out tomorrow as they did today, I support them,” said Melanie Wimmer, one of the students’ mother. “They get suspended, I support them.”
Meloche met with parents for about two hours and urged students who wanted to protest to do so inside the gym rather than outside.
Eric Ascalon, whose son Zaiden was in Locke’s class last year, said students “love him unequivocally.”
“After the events in Parkland, there was no mention in the schools,” he told Philly.com. “There was no addressing the issue with students and the one teacher that brings up the concerns is suspended.”
Schools spokeswoman Barbara Wilson said she could not comment on personnel matters.
Hundred of students at Cherry Hill High School East are in the process of a walkout protesting the suspension of a teacher who spoke out about school safety in the aftermath of the deadly Florida high school massacre: https://t.co/e61hC2gIb5 pic.twitter.com/fLbPWPTs9Z
— NBC10 Philadelphia (@NBCPhiladelphia) February 27, 2018
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