Following the deadly mass shooting at a Florida high school on Valentine’s Day, the safety of students has weighed heavily not only on parents but on teachers as well. One New Jersey teacher thought he was simply stating the obvious when he pointed out how vulnerable his own school is, but he got suspended for it.
According to Philly.com, 59-year-old history instructor Timothy Locke noted that the demographics of Cherry Hill High School East are similar to that of Columbine High School, the site of the 1999 massacre. He also pointed out the lack of armed security guards protecting the school.
But he said all this to his students in class, and according to 17-year-old senior Gabriel Ritter, he added that “the chances of East being shot up were high.”
Ritter saw that one female friend of hers was really upset by what Locke said and went with her to the principal’s office to report it. As a result, Locke was called into the office, too, had his bag searched, was suspended from his job, and was told he had to undergo both a physical and psychiatric evaluation.
Locke is a very popular teacher at the school, though, and his suspension did not make students happy. On Tuesday, hundreds of them walked out of the school in protest, according to NBC Philadelphia. 500 students also a signed a petition in support of him.
“Free Mr. Locke!” students chanted as they marched down the street and around the football field.
Parent Eric Ascalon stood up for Locke, saying that, “The students love him unequivocally. After the events in Parkland, there was no mention in the schools. There was no addressing the issue with students and the one teacher that brings up the concerns is suspended.”
He added, “This was a relevant topic of discussion. He said ‘I just want you students to know that I’d stand between the gunman and you guys,’ and he also criticized the administration.”
Locke felt that his punishment was unjust as well, saying, “All I have ever done for that school is for my students and for their parents.”
What do you think of this? In other news, Billy Graham’s daughter Anne Graham Lotz is sharing her final conversation with her father.