A science teacher has been suspended from his job at a Los Angeles high school for helping two students with science projects that the school district considers "imitation weapons."
Greg Schiller, 43, who teaches Advanced Placement biology and psychology at the Cortines School of Visual & Performing Arts, was investigated by the L.A. Unified School District in February after a school employee thought two of the Science Fair projects he was overseeing were dangerous.
One used compressed air to fire a small projectile—but it wasn't hooked up to a source of air pressure, so it couldn't have fired. The other was a research project into how a coil gun—basically a tube charged by a power source until it expels a projectile—works. Schiller asked for additional graphs and analysis on that one.
Neither of the completed projects was built at school. Schiller had just followed their progress in photos. Both projects have been confiscated as evidence, according to the mother of the ninth grader who was researching powered coils.
Now Schiller is suspended, which has led to all sorts of consequences around the school: The fencing team he coached has been banned from competing without him, his psychology class is being taught by an inexperienced sub (and the school won't let him provide lesson plans), and he's been unable to participate in labor negotiations as a teachers' union rep.
"As far as we can tell, he's being punished for teaching science," Warren Fletcher, president of United Teachers Los Angeles, told the L.A. Times.