CBS Local — A middle school teacher in Pennsylvania is reportedly heading back to work just days after he was suspended for serving his students pancakes during a state exam.
Kyle Byler, an eighth-grade teacher at Hand Middle School, says he was suspended without pay on April 10 after the school’s assistant principal saw him preparing breakfast on an electric griddle for the children as they took the Pennsylvania System of School Assessment (PSSA).
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“I don’t understand what I did wrong, to be honest with you. There was no infraction whatsoever,” the 38-year-old said, via LancasterOnline.com. “At no point was it any distraction for any of the students. They worked their butts off.” The social studies teacher claims that he was brought into a meeting with school officials and told he would be fired for distracting students during the PSSA.
The incident sparked outrage among children and parents at the Pennsylvania school as dozens of Byler’s students protested the teacher’s suspension. Students claim the actions of assistant principal Marian Grill were more damaging than the free meal. “The moment she walked in, everybody turned. She was the distraction. Not pancakes. Not Byler,” 14-year-old Alizea Rodriguez said.
Hand Middle School is denying the school board ever planned to fire Mr. Byler and plans to reinstate the teacher on April 19. “There was never any dismissal action on the Board’s agenda,” school officials posted on the school district’s website. “The personnel matter has been resolved with the employee, who is scheduled to return to work.”
Lancaster school district spokeswoman Kelly Burkholder added that if Byler had asked for permission to feed his students ahead of the test he still would have been told it was a distraction from his duties and prevented from making the pancakes.
Lancaster Education Association President Jason Molloy is disputing the school district’s policy and Byler’s temporary suspension; claiming that there is no rule stating a teacher can’t provide children with a hot meal in an exam. “There has never been any kind of administrative notice that said what kind of food we may provide to our students during testing,” Molloy told reporters.