Students at a Los Angeles high school are protesting the suspension of a teacher when his students submitted science fair projects that looked like real weapons.
Greg Schiller, a science teacher at Ramon C. Cortines School of Visual and Performing Arts, was suspended in February after students turned in an electromagnetic coil gun and an air cannon as science projects.
Both were confiscated by the Los Angeles Unified School District.
“It has appliances in roller coasters and spaceships. It’s been theorized to be able to launch spaceships in space for cheaper,” freshman Asa Ferguson said of his coil gun. He thinks they pulled the project because it contained the word “gun.”
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“I think that if I had said it was an 'electromagnetic propulsion system' it would not have been taken out,” Ferguson told CBS Los Angeles.
The air gun was not hooked up to a source of air pressure to propel a small object.
“This would take technology that I don’t have access to to make it dangerous. It would require a lot more stuff than what was there,” Ferguson said Thursday as students protested the absence of Schiller.
Thursday morning hundreds of students put tape on their mouth and held signs that said “I will not talk until Mr. Schiller is reinstated.”
A Facebook page called “Free Schiller” has more than 700 likes.
For the last month, Schiller has been reported to LAUSD office, also known as “teacher jail.”
“In writing, no. I have not received a formal written note as to why I’m in ‘teacher jail,’” Schiller said.
He says the projects were confiscated before he had “an opportunity to fully examine them.”
Tom Waldman, the director of media and communication at the Los Angeles Unified School District, said he could not comment on the suspension.
“There is an ongoing investigation, therefore, we cannot comment. It is the practice of the Los Angeles Unified School District to reassign an employee to a non-classroom setting when there are allegations related to student safety,” Waldman said in statement.