(Associated Press) A teacher fired from a Michigan middle school after encouraging students to raise money for the family of Florida teenager Trayvon Martin said Tuesday she is confused by the dismissal and wants the school’s administration to explain.
Brooke Harris was dismissed in March from Pontiac Academy for Excellence after she supported students’ efforts to plan a wear-a-hoodie-to-school day. Martin was wearing a hoodie Feb. 26 when he was shot to death by a neighborhood watch volunteer.
A number of groups, including the Southern Poverty Law Center in Montgomery, Ala., have called for Harris to be reinstated.
“I’m really confused why I got fired,” Harris told The Associated Press. “I don’t think I did anything wrong.”
According to the SPLC, a national civil rights group, Harris’ eighth-grade journalism students asked her about the death of Martin, 17, who was unarmed when he was shot in Sanford, Fla. No charges have been filed.
Harris gave the students an editorial-writing assignment on the shooting. But the students wanted to raise money for Martin’s family and asked the school’s administrators if they could each pay $1 to wear hoodies instead of school uniforms for a day, the group said. It said the school regularly has fundraisers in which students are allowed to “dress down.”
The 26-year-old English teacher said she approached school administrators “through the chain of command” but that Superintendent Jacqueline Cassell said the project could not go forward. Harris said she was in the process of explaining this decision to the students when she was called for a meeting with Cassell.
The superintendent suspended Harris for encouraging the students and then fired her after she showed up at the school to drop off prizes for students when she had been told to stay away, the SPLC said.
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