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Double Standard? California Teacher Placed on Leave After Questioning Student Walkout


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A California high school history teacher was placed on paid administrative leave after presenting a question to her students -- if they thought the school administration would let another group of students protest a cause like abortion and walk out of class during the middle of the day. 

Julianne Benzel has taught at Rocklin High School near Sacramento for 20 years with a spotless record. It's the only teaching position she has held during her career. 

Benzel said she thought it was appropriate to talk with her students about the politics of the gun violence protest that then was still a week away.

Benzel told CBN News in a telephone interview that the class had a very good five to seven-minute discussion on the protest and she encouraged her students to educate themselves about the walkout.  

"I told them to go home and talk with their parents about it," she said.

Benzel said a week went by and she heard no backlash from any students or parents.

"I didn't get any backlash from my students. All my students understood that there could not be a double standard," she said.

Then on the day of the walkout, she received a telephone call and a letter from the school's human resources department, informing her she had been placed on paid administrative leave. 

According to Benzel, only two students out of the 200 students she teaches complained and only one parent.

Even though she was reinstated to her teaching duties two days later, Benzel says this incident has left her somewhat perplexed.

"I really don't know what I said to cause this," she told CBN News.  "Maybe I used the wrong example.  Abortion is too inflammatory for some people."

Benzel says the teachers at the school were told by the administration that the students would participate in the voluntary walkout on March 14.

"That's when I first questioned if one national movement is supported, would another get the same support?  Is this politically driven? There can't be a double standard," she said.

Benzel says she believes this is a First Amendment issue. 

In an emailed statement to CBN News, the Rocklin Unified School District said Benzel was not penalized or placed on leave based on her viewpoints.

"The Rocklin High School teacher placed on paid administrative leave recently is back at work today. Paid administrative leave is not a disciplinary action.  It can be used by a school district or other public employer while an investigation takes place. The teacher was not penalized or placed on leave based on her viewpoints," the statement read.

"While RUSD cannot comment on specifics involving personnel issues, the District can clarify that the action was taken due to complaints from parents and students involving the teacher's communications regarding the student-led remembrance activities. Rocklin Unified school sites held voluntary tributes to the victims in the tragic Florida high school shooting." the statement continued.  "Our top priority is to support the academic needs of our students while maintaining a safe, caring and orderly learning environment for all."

Randy Thomasson, president of Sacramento based, a non-profit organization, in a statement said, "This is more evidence that today's public schools have rejected critical thinking and have instead become liberal indoctrination centers. It's no surprise that the school district punished this good teacher. Logic, fairness, constitutional values, the right to life, and school safety have all fallen victim to the godless, dysfunctional, government-controlled schools, which emphasize political correctness over evidence, facts, academics, and true history."

"In California government schools, three out of four students are not proficient in reading, writing, or math; there are ten sexual indoctrination laws teaching kids to embrace homosexuality, transsexuality, and teen fornication; and abortion clinics partner with nearly every high school," the statement continued.  "This event in Rocklin is just another example of why parents need to take back their children from liberals and 'progressives' who are indoctrinating and dumbing down their minds, hearts, and souls."

Benzel told CBN News she has seen something good come out of this incident. The amount of support she has received from the Rocklin community has been overwhelming.  Former students and parents have written hundreds of letters to the school administration supporting her.

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About The Author

Steve Warren is a senior multimedia producer for CBN News. Warren has worked in the news departments of television stations and cable networks across the country. In addition, he also worked as a producer-director in television production and on-air promotion. A Civil War historian, he authored the book The Second Battle of Cabin Creek: Brilliant Victory. It was the companion book to the television documentary titled Last Raid at Cabin Creek currently streaming on Amazon Prime. He holds an M.A. in Journalism from the University of Oklahoma and a B.A. in Communication from the University of