Hopes for a new heartwarming NBC series inspired by current events were dashed when a Pennsylvania school district suspended a teacher after he made pancakes for his test-taking students. His students are upset. The teacher is upset. Presumably, the agent feverishly working on the rights to the story is also upset.
As reported by WGN and Lancaster Online, Hand Middle School teacher Kyle Byler brought an electric griddle to his eighth-grade class, then made one whole-grain pancake for each of his students to eat while they took a state standardized test. An assistant principal walked in, and less than a day later, Byler told Lancaster Online, he was suspended without pay and told that the school board would vote on whether or not he was to be fired. A spokesperson for the Pennsylvania Department of Education told Lancaster Online that the concern was that pancake-making “would likely interfere with ‘actively monitoring’ the assessment, which is a key task.”
Making this story even more upsetting is this statement from Lancaster Education Association President Jason Molloy. According to WGN, the district is home to a number of “economically distressed” families, a fact that led Molloy to say, “For some, whole-grain pancakes may be the only hot meal they’ve gotten that day.”
The story doesn’t entirely lack feel-goodiness, even if it’s not the warm and fuzzy affair it might have been. Students and parents alike sprang to Byler’s defense, protesting outside the school on Friday and showing up, 100-strong, at a Tuesday school board meeting.
In a statement released Tuesday, the school district said that no “dismissal action” was listed on the board’s agenda, and stressed that he’d be returning to the classroom. That’s something we could conceivably call a happy ending, except the part where everyone is all upset and pancakes get ruined.