A white Orange County, Florida teacher was fired for taking one of his lessons too far.
Last week, Jeffrey Keene, a former Psychology teacher at Dr. Phillips High School, is appealing his termination following an assignment about school safety.
Keene assigned students to write their individual obituaries ahead of an active school shooting drill. He told FOX 35 Orlando that the lesson was meant to make students think about their lives during a school shooting scenario.
“If they died 24 hours from now, what would they do differently than they did yesterday? And that’s to get them to get rid of all the fluff and show them what’s important in the world. It wasn’t to say, ‘You’re going to die, and let’s stress you out,'” the ousted teacher said.
The 63-year-old Florida educator was terminated almost immediately over the obituary assignment. After assigning 11th and 12th-grade students during the first period, students were interviewed by school officials during the second. By the seventh period, Keene was fired.
“Dr. Phillips High School families were informed that a teacher gave an inappropriate assignment about school violence. The administration immediately investigated, and the probationary employee has been terminated,” a district spokesperson told NBC News.
In 2022, 51 school shootings resulted in death or injuries, according to Education Week. Mass shootings in Florida jumped from 14 to 34 in 2020 that killed 26 and injured 133, The Florida Times Union reported.
So far in 2013, there have been at least 14 school shootings that have resulted in death or injuries in the U.S.
“It wasn’t to scare them or make them feel like they were going to die, but just to help them understand what’s important in their lives and how they want to move forward with their lives and how they want to pursue things in their journey,” Keene added.
Dr. Phillips High School has a 77% minority student enrollment, with almost 30% of the students being Black. It’s not lost that Keene as a white teacher, should have found a better lesson than writing an obituary that would traumatize students.
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