Freeland parents protest firing of teacher - ABC 12 – WJRT – Flint, MI

Freeland parents protest firing of teacher

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FREELAND (WJRT) - (05/26/14) - Parents in a Mid-Michigan school district are protesting the firing of a kindergarten teacher.

More than 100 parents and teachers attended last week's Freeland school board meeting to voice their displeasure with the decision.

The protests continue.

"We were shocked, I mean he is an excellent teacher, my 5 year old has thrived," said parent Joby Phillips.

He is just one of dozens of parents who are supporting Adam Burkhard, a kindergarten teacher at the Freeland Learning Center. June 13 will be his last day, after the non-tenured teacher's contract was not renewed.

Phillips' son is in Burkhard's class.

"I can't do much about the injustice elsewhere in the world, but here in my community, I can speak out, for this man who has done great things for these children," he says.

Same with Wendy Awad, whose son is not in Burkhard's class.

"My older son, he didn't have Mr. Burkhard in kindergarten, but he came home and talked about him everyday," she said.

Discussion at the school board meeting indicates Burkhard ran into trouble with school administrators for his comments in an email, where he wrote he was leaving a committee position, in part because of the contentious contract talks between the Freeland schools and its teachers. The teacher's contract expired last June, and a new one was finally approved in February. Some of his comments on social media were called into question, but Phillips says, the punishment doesn't fit.

"I thought something shocking was going to come out, and when it came out, we were all looking at each other, this is it, this is what unprofessionalism is," Phillips said.

Parents and teachers question if what Burkhard did was unprofessional, why was he allowed to continue teaching for the entire school year. The email was sent in August. Freeland Schools superintendent Matt Cairy says in a written statement that "All employers have certain expectations of their employees. If a probationary employee is not able to live up to those expectations, there is little choice as to what an employer needs to do."

These parents don't agree. One has even put two signs on her front lawn in protest. Awad says, due to the decision, her family may leave the Freeland area.

"We will not be enrolling my middle son in the Freeland schools next year, we have found another location for him to attend.," she says.

Burkhard had been with the Freeland school district for four years.

We were not able to reach him for comment.
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