Thousands sign petition on behalf of LRSD teacher who says he was forced to resign

Local News

LITTLE ROCK, Ark.– After two weeks of virtual learning, students at Little Rock Central High School will be back in the classroom Monday, October 19th. 

Some of the students will be without one of their teachers who says he was forced to resign after telling the school he only felt safe teaching from home. 

“I chose to resign but I don’t think I had any real option in it,” said Jacob Morris. “I’ve steeled my resolve that I’m doing the right thing– I’m still disappointed that it worked out this way.”

Morris has taught his AP students remotely since August over Zoom, hoping to keep his family safe as COVID-19 spreads across Arkansas. 

“We are taking a pretty hard line on our family’s exposure and we are keeping our kids home,” said Morris.

The educator says his decision was met with opposition from LRSD after he refused to return to the classroom to instruct his students in-person. 

“I’m not willing to take those kinds of risks that are unnecessary,” said Morris.

We spoke with Little Rock Central High School’s student body presidents who say they are disappointed with the district’s action. 

“Students are able to choose if they would like to learn virtually and I believe teachers should be afforded the same options,” said Cecelia Schneider, co-student body president. 

Schneider is one of thousands who signed a petition entitled ‘Justice for Mr. Morris.’ The petition reads in part: “Mr. Morris has been unjustly stripped of his position at Little Rock Central High School for making the difficult decision to choose the health of his family over his work.” 

“The community, the students, the parents, the teachers– nobody is going to stand for the district treating teachers this way,” said Schneider. 

Schneider’s co-president, Anna Yates, says Mr. Morris was a great teacher and helped his students in all aspects of life. 

“So many students are concerned about the safety and welfare of their teachers right now,” said Yates. 

The Little Rock School District sent us the following 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. “

“I wish there was some other way that the district could change the paradigm and accommodate us,” said Morris. 

Morris says it hurts to know his students will return to school this week, but without him on the other side of the screen.  

“I don’t know if anything can be changed- I would like to think it could. I definitely would like to have my job back,” said Morris. 

Schneider and Yates say hundreds of students from Central High School plan to protest at the Capital after school on Monday. Their hope is that L-R-S-D will see things differently and allow Mr. Morris to continue working remotely. 

To view the petition, click here:

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