LA Teacher Suspended After District Says Science Projects 'Mimicked Weapons'

Cortines School of the Visual and Performing ArtsAPStudents and parents protest outside the Ramon C. Cortines School of Visual and Performing Arts on Thursday, April 10, 2014.

Students at a Los Angeles high school are fighting to get their science teacher back after he was suspended in February for “supervising the building, research and development of imitation weapons,” the Los Angeles Times reports.

The students in Greg Schiller’s class at the Cortines School of Visual & Performing Arts were creating projects for a science fair. One student created an air cannon that can propel small objects and another submitted an electromagnetic coil gun that can be used in roller coasters and spaceships, according to CBS Los Angeles.

The coil “gun” was later confiscated.

These projects aren’t uncommon for science fairs — the LA Times points out that President Barack Obama tested a student’s similar, but more powerful, air-pressure device at a White House science fair in 2012.

But an employee at the school reported the air cannon because she thought it looked like a weapon. After the report Schiller was placed on paid leave, according to the LA Times. His biology and psychology students, though, are left without his help in preparing for their advanced placement tests.

The Los Angeles Unified School District released this statement to CBS:

There is an ongoing investigation, therefore, we cannot comment. It is the practice of the Los Angeles Unified School District to reassign an employee to a non-classroom setting when there are allegations related to student safety.

Students and parents are protesting Schiller’s suspension. They have created a Facebook group and a petition to support him and organised that took place on campus Thursday.

With the increasing prevalence of mass shootings in America, educators seem to be especially on-edge and on the look-out for any signs that a student could be dangerous.

Last year, a Baltimore-area second-grader was suspended for chewing a Pop-Tart into a shape that vaguely resembled a gun and saying “bang bang.”

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