Reading & Literacy

Students Petition for Reinstatement of Teacher Put on Leave Over Poem

By Elisha McNeil — March 01, 2016 1 min read
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Thousands of students are petitioning for the reinstatement of a South Carolina teacher who resigned last week after being placed on administrative leave over a poem he had written, according to Greenville Online.

Greg Fish, an English and literature teacher at Easley High School, held a monthly off-campus “poetry round table” for his AP literature class, where students wrote and shared anonymous poems and tried to guess the author of each. School administrators received complaints after Fish allegedly shared a poem of his own with his students that contained the F-word.

In a statement, Pickens County School District officials said that, following standard procedure, Fish was placed on leave “in order to investigate the allegations.” Officials accepted his resignation soon after and stated that he will not be returning to the school or classroom, though he will apparently assist teachers who will instruct his classes for the rest of the year.

Current and former students have since used social media to show support for Fish through multiple petitions, a Facebook page, and the hashtag #FightForFish. The creator of one online petition, which has about 1,500 signatures, describes Fish as “one of the few teachers who connects with you as a friend rather than a paid employee.” Another online petition that has gained over 3,000 signatures says students will “struggle to prepare for the AP exam without him.”

“Mr. Fish was not only a teacher to his students, but also a mentor,” the petition reads. “He has positively influenced every student he has come across in the past 16 years of teaching at Easley High School. The students need Mr. Fish to come back and teach, without him many classes and organizations will fail.”

In addition to ordering custom t-shirts to show their support for Fish, students had planned a sit-in in Fish’s former classroom, but it was recently cancelled at the request of Fish’s wife. Despite this setback, supporters say they are planning to attend the next school board meeting on March 21st to voice their concerns over the district’s treatment of the teacher.

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A version of this news article first appeared in the Teaching Now blog.