Media contact: Suzanne Spurgeon, UTLA Communications Director, 213-368-6247/213-305-9310 (cell), firstname.lastname@example.org
Greg Schiller, the LAUSD science teacher who was removed from his school in February—in a flap over science fair experiments, will be back at Cortines School of Visual & Performing Arts tomorrow. Schiller has been languishing in “teacher jail” since February, unable to help his students prepare for the AP exams or coach his fencing team.
The community, parents, and students came to Schiller’s defense, holding a series of protests demanding that the District allow him back into the classroom.
Schiller has been vocal in explaining that the two student experiments were in no way dangerous and he had not even seen them when an administrator pulled them from the science fair and sent Schiller to “teacher jail.” Many in the scientific community were in disbelief that the experiments that were built to convert one form of energy to another could be mistaken for “imitation weapons.”
Schiller reacted to the District’s decision to return him to his school; “I am excited to be going back to the classroom to assist my students in the last week before the AP exams.”
UTLA President Warren Fletcher said, “When the District punished Greg Schiller for teaching science, his students were also punished. They were left to prepare for the AP exams on their own—and those exams are so vital to their future. This is another example of the District’s abuse of power and a system that is broken.”
Alex Caputo Pearl, UTLA Presidential Candidate and Director, said, “That Greg Schiller ever spent one moment in 'teacher jail' shows how out of control LAUSD is in its teacher-bashing efforts. That Greg Schiller is now back teaching his students shows that the way to challenge 'teacher jail' more broadly is through aggressive organizing and coalition-building with parents, students, and educators, in a broad campaign for the schools our students deserve.”
Hundreds of other LAUSD educators are caught in the same trap as Schiller. They are reassigned or “housed” in administrative centers across the District—in many cases accused of things that have nothing to do with student safety. Others, like Iris Stevenson, the director of Crenshaw High’s Elite Choir, don’t even know why they are in these “teacher jails.” All they know is they are being kept from their students and prohibited from working in their profession.