A New York high school teacher who was suspended after showing his senior class a Fox News documentary about due process on college campuses has had his suspension extended indefinitely.
In a letter to Mike Poplardo, obtained by The Daily Wire, Bedford Central School District Superintendent Dr. Christopher Manno informed the tenured economics teacher that his one-month suspension “will continue until further notice,” even though it was supposed to end on February 1.
Poplardo was punished for showing several senior classes a Fox News documentary titled “The Truth about Sex and College,” which featured this reporter. The video was part of a broader lesson plan to keep students out of the messy campus procedures for sexual assault – both as a victim and as an accused student. Poplardo had shown the video in the previous school year without incident, but this year an anonymous tip was sent to school officials claiming he had shown a “graphic sexual video” because of a couple sentences that describe an alleged rape.
Poplardo, who had received near perfect evaluations for the 29 years he had taught, is now being accused of “misconduct and conduct unbecoming a teacher, misconduct, incompetence, and insubordination” for showing the video.
The superintendent wanted Poplardo suspended for 6 months. The school district granted a one-month suspension. When Poplardo reached out to parents to inform them why he would not be in class, he included a copy of his lesson plan, which included a link to the video. He did not tell anyone to click on the link, but the superintendent, Manno, brought seven new charges against stemming from the inclusion of that link. Poplardo has not received a hearing for the new charges.
Poplardo’s suspension was supposed to end this week, but last Friday, January 25, Manno sent Poplardo an official letter extending the suspension without any additional hearing for the beloved teacher to state his case.
“After your disciplinary suspension ends on February 1, you will be placed on a paid administrative leave of absence. This leave will continue until further notice,” Manno wrote in the letter.
“During your leave of absence, you are directed not to enter any property of the Bedford Central School District, except to attend a scheduled hearing on your disciplinary charges under Section 3020-a of the New York Education Law,” the letter continued.
Further, Manno informed Poplardo that he is still “not to communicate with students about the circumstances surrounding the two sets of disciplinary charges against you and other issue relating to your legal issues and personal employment with the District.”
Poplardo suggested to The Daily Wire that since Manno can’t suspend him without due process, he’s using “an administrative trick.”
“As long as I am being paid he can get away with this dirty trick. Manno is doing this because he doesn’t know how to address the tremendous support I have received from community members, students, and now nationally as evidenced by the money and comments pouring into the GoFundMe page and the comments sections of the articles already published.”
When The Daily Wire first wrote of Poplardo’s situation, the GoFundMe page had raised $5,000 out of an $8,000 goal. It has now raised slightly more than $13,000. Poplardo's story was also covered by Fox News’ Martha MacCallum, who hosted the documentary Poplardo showed to his students.
Part of the reason Poplardo, the lone conservative at his school in liberal Bedford, NY, was disciplined for his video was because it was allegedly one-sided and political (it actually showed both sides of the sexual assault issue). But back in 2009, Manno defended a school principal and teacher in his former district in New Jersey who led students in singing praise of President Barack Obama.
"There was nothing systematic or indoctrinating about this innocent classroom activity," Manno said at the time. "There was no intention on the part of the teacher to make any political statement or promote a political agenda."
Now he sees a political agenda in Poplardo’s attempts to protect his students from a campus process that is seen as unfair by accusers and the accused, albeit for different reasons.
UPDATE: Manno responded to a Daily Wire inquiry, saying Poplardo would be put on paid administrative leave pending a second hearing related to the additional charges filed against him. Further, Manno said the incident involving the teacher in New Jersey and the Obama praise was not similar to the situation with Poplardo:
Mr. Poplardo had been warned twice in writing not to show his students videos with sexual and one-sided political content. The teacher involved in the incident in Burlington had not received any prior warnings, and she did not expose her students to inappropriate sexual content. Therefore, these cases are not at all similar.