Local News

Johnston County Teacher Speaks Out About 'Unjust' Dismissal

Posted June 9, 2004

— A high school teacher who should be enjoying the summer is looking for a job instead.

The Johnston County School Board fired Jeff Ferguson from his job as a science teacher at Smithfield-Selma High School, following a chemistry lab experiment Ferguson did with 11th-graders in November.

The science teacher asked students on a voluntary basis if they would drink a gallon of milk in one hour. He wanted to show them what happens when your body can't neutralize acids. In this case, a handful of students got sick.

"I chose a way to illustrate a point which I thought was valid in multiple ways. It was something students would enjoy and would participate in," Ferguson said.

While the experiment prompted complaints, many students and parents supported Ferguson. He was suspended for six weeks and reprimanded in a letter.

Ferguson returned to the classroom in January and since then has received several glowing evaluations. But, ultimately, the principal recommended his removal.

"I think this particular principal didn't like me and went after me," Ferguson said. "I'm very angry. Who wouldn't be angry about this? I got hammered by a system that's unjust all the way."

"I'm hoping that there's an administrator in a system somewhere that says this is what we want -- a teacher who cares about students and teaches well," Ferguson said.

Ferguson will appeal the board's decision. If his appeal fails, he said he will file a lawsuit.



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