A fired Florida teacher, who made his students write their own obituaries, isn’t apologizing – or backing down.
Jeffrey Keene, who teaches psychology at Dr. Phillips High School, is appealing his termination after he was let go for what the Orange County School District calls an “inappropriate” assignment about school violence.
Keene, however, stands by the assignment, saying it was about teaching the students how to stay safe.
He figured if there was going to be an active shooter drill at the school, why not tie it into a psychology lesson that includes writing their own obituaries?
“If they died 24 hours from now, what would they do differently than they did yesterday?,” he said to WOFL.
“And that’s to get them to get rid of all the fluff and show them what’s important in the world,” he explained. “It wasn’t to say, ‘You’re going to die, and let’s stress you out.’”
He stood by his lesson to the board, insisting to them, “I didn’t do anything wrong.”
Keene had a disclaimer on the bottom of the assignment stating “it is no way [intended] to upset you but one student was and asked to speak to a counselor.
By his second class of the day, a supervisor came to observe him and quickly shut down the lesson.
“I was stunned,” he told the outlet. “I was talking to students about the world they live in: gun safety, active shooters.”
Keene then received a notice from the district, letting him know he could either resign from his position or be fired.
“I said, ‘I didn’t do anything wrong,’” he protested, and asked for clarification, which the board did not provide.
“I said, ‘In that case, since I don’t know what I did wrong, you can go ahead and terminate me without cause.’”
A spokesperson for the district said in a statement: “Dr. Phillips High School families were informed that a teacher gave an inappropriate assignment about school violence. Administration immediately investigated, and the probationary employee has been terminated.”
Keene’s lesson plan comes in the aftermath of the Nashville school shooting, which saw three students and three school employees gunned down by a former student.