The Copiague Board of Education announced in a contentious public meeting Monday night that two teachers involved in a “personal protest” at the Walter G. O’Connell Copiague High School on Jan. 20 will not be fired because of the incident.
“The board and the administration knows how good . . . the two of them are,” board President Brian J. Sales said. “No one’s getting fired over this.”
A crowd of about 50 parents, students, alumni and neighbors packed into the small meeting room, some spilling into the hallway outside, to voice their opinions and hear the board address the incident, which has sparked controversy and speculation in the community.
Board members declined to clarify what the “personal protest” was, citing the privacy rights of the teachers involved. They also did not say if the teachers will face disciplinary measures.
According to a statement released by the school district last week, the actions of the teachers “interrupted the educational process of a first period class.” The district investigated the episode, the statement read, and is considering “the repercussions for this behavior.”
The teachers apologized for the incident, the statement read.
Many at the meeting spoke out in support of the teachers.
“They are fabulous individuals,” said Copiague resident Kensasha Branam-Mask, who graduated from Copiague High School in 2003 and said she studied under one of the teachers involved.
She asked the board to show more support for the teachers, whose actions she contended were protected by law.
“They practiced their right. And for that, they should not be penalized,” she said.
Bryan Vasseur was one of few in attendance to voice disapproval of the teachers.
“I’m very discouraged that we allow teachers like that in our classroom,” he said.
Some at the meeting called on the board to be more transparent about the incident, including Babylon Town Councilwoman Jacqueline Gordon.
“We have the right to know it but you won’t tell us,” she said, referring to the details of the episode that the board has not clarified.