LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – Dozens of Little Rock Central High School students took the steps of the State Capitol in protest after one of their teachers said he was forced to resign.
Central High School AP English teacher Jacob Morris has been teaching from home since August to keep his family safe during the pandemic. After he refused to return to the classroom, he said the district asked for his resignation.
Taking a stand on the Capitol steps, former students spoke out against Little Rock School District and said teachers like Morris are hard to find.
“It really encouraged me to be a stronger writer so it feels hard for all of the juniors who aren’t going to benefit from his instruction this year,” Co-Student Body President Anna Yates said.
“We’re not going to stand for the way that they’re being treated,” Co-Student Body President Cecelia Schneider said.
Schneider and Yates both organized the protest. They say Morris’ resignation sparked the demonstration but this is about all teachers within the district.
“The way our district treats one teacher sets a precedent for how our district will treat all teachers and I don’t think that they’ve set a very good precedent,” Schneider said.
Abigail Wells, a junior at Central, also took the podium to read a poem asking the district to listen to the teachers’ needs.
“I feel like that’s one thing the district might not be seeing that they have a family they have to protect just like we have a family we have to protect,” Wells said.
For the students, they hope the protest showed they care about their teachers’ health and safety.
“That’s also why we expect the district to respect our teachers like we do,” Schneider said.
The student council is planning another protest Wednesday at the district office.
We were able to obtain Morris’ letter of resignation. You can read it and the district’s response below.
The Little Rock School district also released this statement:
“The Little Rock School District (LRSD) will continue to work within state and federal regulations with respect to employees who seek any form of leave. Unfortunately, the District is not able to accommodate undocumented health issues. There are nine areas under which employees can be provided leave. Due to privacy laws, we are limited in our ability to share information regarding specific personnel matters. The District is committed to adhering to providing a safe educational environment for students and staff, and one that is conducive to learning for both in-person and virtual students.”