Two Jacksonville teachers recently walked off their jobs, saying the high school where they worked was not safe for students or teachers. Justin Osier and Samantha Foster were both science teachers at Robert E. Lee High School until Friday.
Among other things, the teachers pointed to the arrest of a 16-year-old student who brought a loaded gun to the school in September and that last week, a different student was arrested when police found a gun in his car.
Osier and Foster, who are married, said they love their students and want to go back, but would not do so until some changes were made.
The teachers brought their concerns to the school board on Tuesday.
"We gave up our salaries combined to try and get our voices heard for these students to try to get a better learning environment at the school," Foster told Channel 4.
The couple said it was fed up after talking with administrators about the need for more security at Lee High School. They said students should undergo more random checks for drugs and guns and that there should be more supervision to keep kids from skipping school.
Osier and Foster said many large fights and the two incidents with guns at the school put them on edge.
"If one student has a gun easily accessible to them, who's to say that more students don't have those guns too?" Osier said.
The teachers said the incident that most concerned them happened in the parking lot, where teachers found that a student had a gun in a car. They said the school should have been put on lockdown immediately, but school leaders disagreed.
"You don't want to start a hysteria. A lockdown wouldn't serve any purpose if no one was in danger," said Lee High School Principal Denise Hall.
Hall said the school takes safety very seriously and that they're adding a new security officer to patrol the parking lot and students are searched when it's felt necessary.
The two former teachers told Channel 4 their concerns fell on deaf ears, but Hall said that's not the case.
"I think that they sincerely believe they are doing some good, and you can't fault them for that. On the other hand, you know we've always have to follow the chain of command or go to people who can make the difference," Hall said.
Osier and Foster might have given up their jobs, but they haven't lost their school spirit. Both wore Lee shirts and ribbons on Tuesday.
"We still love that school. We'd love to be back there, if only … these concerns we have can be brought to the forefront and if people would start doing something about them," Osier said.
The couple and a current teacher said they would talk to the school board about their concerns.
The school's principal and another teacher said they feel very safe at Lee and they were confident students are safe.
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