The Bedford, New York, high school teacher who was suspended after showing a Fox News documentary about due process on college campuses received national attention Wednesday night when he appeared on the media network itself.
Mike Poplardo, an economics teacher at Fox Lane High School who has been teaching for 29 years, showed the Fox documentary, “The Truth about Sex and College” (in which this reporter appeared) as part of a lesson plan to prepare his students for college pitfalls. The point of the lesson was to think of ways to avoid a situation where one ends up in a campus tribunal – whether as an accused or an accusers – since the campus system is so badly flawed.
“I always make an attempt to help the students make a transition to their life after leaving what we might sometimes call the ‘Bedford Bubble,’” Poplardo told Fox host Martha MacCallum, who hosted the documentary shown by the teacher.
Poplardo had shown the documentary to about five classes over the course of two years, but suddenly, someone took issue with the brief description of sexual contact and sent the school an anonymous alert, which Poplardo said is usually reserved for actual danger.
“It was an anonymous alert which is a system designed to help the school find out if there’s something really dangerous going on. Is someone maybe going to harm them self or harm the school? Somehow it was used for the — a different purpose. It was used to complain about this lesson,” he said.
Poplardo said the school decided to investigate, but didn’t speak to a single student, parent, or even the co-teacher that was with him during four of the classes in which the video was shown.
If they had spoken to any of these people, they would have learned that the video was not the lesson, but the jumping off point to a conversation. At the end of this lesson, Poplardo said, students wrote on note cards ideas for how they could avoid a bad situation.
“And the kids wrote down some awesome things on there,” Poplardo said. “One student wrote, we use designated drivers when we go to parties. How about when we get to college campus? We have a designated, you know, peer and that person agrees to stay sober and we all agree whatever the person says we do.”
He said these cards made no difference to the school superintendent when presented at Poplardo’s hearing.
Poplardo was suspended for one month, though the school district asked for six months. He is set to return on Feb. 1, but because he emailed parents about why he would not be teaching – and included a link to the video without telling them to click – his tenure is now under attack from the same superintendent. Now his job is completely on the line, just months away from being able to collect his pension.
You can watch the full Fox News segment with Poplardo below: