FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – One teacher from Arkansas Arts Academy has been fired due to his response to Arkansas house bill 1218.
In response to this students organized a walkout to protest the Schools decision. The walkout occurred at 12:00 p.m. as dozens of students filled the parking lot in a peaceful, but loud, protest over the termination of one of their favorite teachers, Mr. Joshua Depner.
Depner was effectively terminated at 8:25 p.m., after sending a more than strongly worded email. The school says the email included profanity-laced, abusive, harassing, and insulting verbiage from his official Academy email addressed to selected Arkansas legislators.
“I am remorseful about the way that I went about certain things but like I said I am very proud about what I have shown them,” says Depner.
House Bill 1218 which was introduced on January 21 and would prohibit state-funded schools and universities from teaching certain topics that have to do with race, gender, and social class or risk financial penalties.
“A group of legislators that shouldn’t commendire the curriculum or stir it away from teaching an inclusive history and making sure that we identify the uglier and more difficult parts of our common heritage,” says Depner.
Depner disagrees with the schools punitive actions it chose to take, however, he is not alone
“He is an amazing teacher he has inspired these kids he makes them hungry to learn,” says Michelle Belden, parent to one of Depners students. “He makes mistakes but he is one of the best teachers this building has, he’s not the only great teacher but he is one of the best he deserves a second chance for our kids.”
Richard Burrows, CEO of Arkansas Arts Academy, in an official release states they invited Depner to an arbitration meeting, however, the meeting was later canceled after receive advice from his legal counsel.
Because Arkansas Arts Academy is a private school it is not required to have an arbitration meeting. Depner does argue though that because the school is state-funded it is an unjust decision, and says he will be taking further legal action.