- (Photo: REUTERS/David Manning)
Michigan teacher Brooke Harris claims she was fired from Pontiac Academy after supporting her students in a fundraiser that would raise money for the family of Trayvon Martin following his death.
An 8th grade literature teacher has claimed that the she was fired for supporting her students in an attempted fundraiser that she believes followed school guidelines.
According to Harris, everything about the fundraiser was "by the book." The initiative began after students in the teacher's journalism class became aware of the case surrounding Trayvon Martin, the 17-year-old who was shot in February by a neighborhood watchman.
A large amount of controversy surrounded the case after George Zimmerman, the man who shot Martin, was not arrested despite the fact that the teen was unarmed at the time.
New controversy stirred when some upheld the belief that Martin's attire, namely a hoodie, was part of the reason that the young boy was killed.
The Southern Poverty Law Center said Monday that Harris was dismissed with "little explanation."
"Whenever I discipline a kid in my classroom, I make sure they know what they did wrong," Harris argued Monday. "I was just kind of in a state of shock."
Harris said the issue began when she assigned an essay to her students regarding the Trayvon Martin case. Harris explained that her students became so "engaged" in the project that they developed a desire to push the issue further.
"They, like many students across the nation, wanted to show their support by wearing hoodies. Each student who participated would pay $1. Proceeds would be donated to Trayvon's family," Alice Pettway, a reporter following Harris' story, wrote for the Huffington Post.
After identifying a good opportunity to teach her students a lesson, Harris proceeded with the fundraising project.
"She and her students began the formal process of organizing a school event. Students wrote persuasive letters to the principal and superintendent. Brooke and a co-worker filed the necessary paperwork. The principal immediately signed off on the fundraiser," Pettway explained.
Despite achieving the principal's approval, the superintendant Jacqueline Cassell did not agree with the plan.
"Superintendent Cassell was less enthusiastic. She refused to approve the proposal, despite having supported many other 'dress down' fundraisers. Brooke's students took the disappointment in stride, but asked to present their idea to Cassell in person," Pettway said.
However, Harris received a surprise reaction when Cassell suspended the teacher for being "an activist" and not a teacher. Following a 2-week unpaid suspension Harris approached Cassell while dropping things off at a school fair and asked why she had been suspended. After asking twice for the reason behind her suspension, Harris claimed that Cassell fired her.