Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Showing Support for Fired Teacher

Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Showing Support for Fired Teacher

Article excerpt

SARASOTA

Rubber bracelets, like the ones Lance Armstrong wore, with hash tags that say Team Daughtry are being sold on campus at Sarasota Military Academy. T-shirts are in production.

These are the signs of an emotional outpouring of support for Jeff Daughtry, a math teacher who was fired this month after his outburst during class was recorded on a student's cell phone.

The former teacher appeared to shove a teenager and tell him "You move your mouth again or you will die," after a boy swore at him during a March 31 class.

"Shut your face and listen," Daughtry yelled before he knocked over a chair, the video showed.

In an investigation, the school found a large hole in his classroom, a sign that officials believe shows it wasn't the only time Daughtry lost his temper. Daughtry denied the allegation.

Daughtry, who was SMA's teacher of the year last April, has filed an appeal and the school's administrative team will review it, said headmaster Christina Bowman, who declined to comment further in an email. SMA board chair Howard Crowell did not return a message or email for comment.

As of Wednesday afternoon, about 1,700 people joined a Facebook page that has becoming a sounding board to fight for Daughtry to be reinstated. Others also signed an online petition.

"Most everyone in the school -- literally everyone -- is coming together to petition and try and get him back," said Jessica Grantham, an 18-year-old junior. "He was the best teacher I've ever had."

Added junior Jackson Stroud, "It's 100-percent student-driven."

In interviews with students and parents, several said they wanted Daughtry to get a second chance. At SMA -- which is the district's largest charter school -- parents choose to send their children to a school where teachers should have more freedom to discipline students, some said.

"This is a military school," said Maria Lara, a Sarasota mother whose two children are underclassmen at the school. …

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