Raymore, MO (KCTV) — Signatures are mounting on a petition backing a Raymore-Peculiar High School teacher who has been yanked from the classroom, and some of those upset protested outside the school Thursday morning.
Ken Simon was removed from the classroom and placed on administrative leave after he showed the 10-minute video that dealt with “homosexuality.” He is facing disciplinary action.
“Him being suspended over a situation of him actually teaching about our history as a country is absolutely asinine,” former student Victoria Long said.
The video was made in 1959. It warns students to avoid strangers “because they might be homosexual.”
Simon said he used the video to show just how much attitudes about same-sex relationships have changed over the years.
“I didn’t realize it was going to cause such a backlash,” Simon said. “It was totally innocent.”
Two students complained and district administrators yanked the veteran teacher from his classroom. Simon has been teaching for nearly 50 years and planned to retire at the end of the school year.
Past and present teachers and students gathered Thursday to peacefully protest the district’s decision to suspend him. Students are being bused between classes that take them out of the building so they don’t interact with the protest.
Seniors also recognized Simon with signs of support during their annual parade. Some students say he needs to be treated with more dignity. They talked Wednesday about their affection and respect for Simon.
“They just did it,” Jennifer Schultz said. “I love him. He was a great teacher… If you don’t teach history and how far everything has come then you are not doing your job.”
Simon said he was told he could attend the high school graduation ceremonies if he didn’t speak to any teachers or students, which he said would be an impossible undertaking.
More than 3,000 have signed the petition at Change.org.
Simon said he is amazed by the support, which he called unbelievable. He said the district has ordered him to abstain from speaking with any students until May 22 when school is out for the year.
The district issued the following statement:
Recent reports have generated a great deal of speculation regarding the employment status of Mr. Ken Simon in the Raymore-Peculiar School District. Due to privacy concerns, the District is very limited in what it can say about personnel matters. However, the District would like to address the items that can be shared with the general public.
Mr. Simon has served the students of the Raymore-Peculiar School District for 47 years. He is currently employed by the Raymore-Peculiar School District and will be retiring at the end of the current school year. The current matter will have no impact on his future retirement benefits.
Mr. Simon will be honored this month in a similar fashion as all retirees of the District. He may attend the various end-of-year staff events and he may also attend the 2015 Graduation Ceremony as a patron of the District.
Staff members facing potential employment action are provided due process. They have the option to appeal administrative decisions to the Board of Education.