|The vote was 6-1 for approval of a non-renewal for a third year non-tenured teacher at Monday night's Knoxville school board meeting. After the board made the announcement it was clear residents of Knoxville weren't happy with the board's decision to terminate Michelle Nelson, and they weren't going to let it go.
Students at Knoxville Junior High with encouragement from angered parents took to Facebook and created the "Keep Mrs. Nelson" page. There, students talked and organized their efforts to start a protest.
Parent Diane Fitchpartick tells WGIL the kids decisions to voice their opinion through protest is something she fully stands behind.
"I'm very proud of all the kids," Fitchpatrick said. "They started chanting on Monday in the lunch room, then [Wednesday] was the no eating lunch. I don't really know for sure what [Thursday's] going to bring. I do know that they put signs on their lockers."
The students' decision to chant and not eat lunch caused concern for the school.
Superintendent Steven Wilder was called to the Junior High to talk with the students along with the Principal and Guidance Counselor.
Wilder tells WGIL the administration understands the students' frustrations, but they need to understand there are proper ways to handle the situation.
"We understand that some of them are upset, and we want to be respectful of that and try to use this as a teaching moment, and encourage them to learn and to consider how to voice their concerns in a peaceful manner," Wilder said. "Particularly, in the school environment, do that in a way that doesn't disrupt what happens in a school environment."
The school board likely will not reverse their decision.
The students' Facebook page currently has more than three hundred likes.
No disciplinary action has been taken; however, Wilder says if things get out of control the administration will take action.
(Students hold picket signs protesting the dismissal of Knoxville Junior High School teacher Michelle Nelson. Picture from "Keep Mrs.Nelson" page on Facebook.)