A conservative high school teacher was suspended and is on the verge of being fired after he showed a Fox News documentary to graduating seniors in the liberal-dominated wealthy school district in Bedford, New York.
Ashe Schow reported for the The Daily Wire on the stunning disciplinary measures taken against Fox Lane High School economics teacher Mike Poplardo by the school district after an anonymous tipster complained that the documentary included “sexual content.”
The documentary in question, titled “The Truth about Sex and College” and which included commentary by Schow, explored the lack of due process for those accused of sexual assault and debunked common misconceptions about the prevalence of sexual assault on college campuses.
According to Schow, the “sexual content” referred to in the complaint “consisted of about three sentences in the entire 50-minute video that describe a particular claim of rape.”
The teacher says he intended to spark discussion among the students about sexual assault and prepare them for college by way of providing them with strategies — some of which they devise on their own — to avoid becoming either a victim or the accused in a sexual assault incident.
Poplardo says he has shown this same documentary to five other classes previously in the 2016/17 and 2017/18 school years without complaint.
However, Poplardo’s explanation and prior history meant little to the district, which charged the tenured teacher with “misconduct and conduct unbecoming a teacher, misconduct, incompetence, and insubordination,” all of which stemmed from his showing the video to his students.
Poplardo, who has received “highly effective” evaluations for most of his nearly 30 years with the district, was summarily suspended for one month without pay. The district says they offered him a settlement to avoid suspension, but Poplardo says he would have had to pay a $3,000 fine and in addition, would have been stripped of his other positions at the school, including coach of the JV girl’s soccer and softball teams, and advisory positions with the school’s debate club and Class of 2020, which added up to about $16,000.
With the help of a union lawyer — which is more help than students accused of sex crimes on campus would receive — Poplardo has appealed the district’s disciplinary action against him as a violation of school policies, but the district is fighting that appeal and has moved to have the case dismissed.
Poplardo says he has a “target” on his back because he is the lone conservative teacher in the school. “They just don’t like me because in the work room when everyone else is complaining about every single thing Trump does, I don’t participate. I don’t fight back if I’m outnumbered nine to one, but I don’t chime in,” he told The Daily Wire.
Poplardo reached out to the parents of his students via a letter following his one-month suspension, and included his lesson plan and a link to the documentary so they could decide for themselves whether his punishment was warranted or not.
Attempt to terminate
Unfortunately, that action only drew even more fury from the school district, which proceeded to hit him with seven additional charges and has moved to revoke his tenure and terminate his employment.
“I have a passion for teaching and coaching,” Poplardo told a local media outlet, the Bedford Daily Voice. “It’s the only thing I have ever done and I’m not sure now with how the district has reacted that I will be able to teach again.”
A GoFundMe account has been established to help Poplardo and his family manage their expenses during his month-long suspension without pay.