By CHRISTIAN MONTERROSA | Reporter
Students and teachers at Palisades Charter High School banded together to fight for Todd Wilkinson, an AP English literature teacher, after the school’s administration voted not to renew his contract.
A handful of those hoping to reverse the board’s decision, including Wilkinson, attended the Board of Trustees meeting on Friday, March 8, to speak on his behalf and ask for a more thorough investigation.
Wilkinson had reportedly received a complaint against him from a student who many believe did not got along with him. Several weeks later he was informed his contract would not be renewed.
“I take it as a matter of personal pride, and in this moment, I feel shame that we are here and that we are not talking about what our students need and however I contributed to that, I’m really sad about that,” Wilkinson said during the public comments of the board meeting.
“I feel like you know who I am, and that this is not really a matter of judging my character. I’ve worked with children for over 15 years and my character has never been in question, and I honestly don’t believe it is now.”
Wilkinson did not respond to requests for comment.
Taking it a step further, Pali High senior Ryan Loyola took it upon himself to start a petition to reinstate the teacher and that now, as the Post went to print, has garnered over 780 signatures.
“It was to my dismay when I heard Palisades Charter High School made the decision to not renew his contract due to isolated incidents,” Loyola wrote in his petition. “It is by no means that these incidents should depict Mr. Wilkinson’s character as mean spirited or combative.”
At a March 19 meeting, students and teachers showed up in full force, with over a dozen taking the podium to vouch for their beloved teacher.
Greg Strouse, a fellow teacher at Pali High, offered the strongest rebuke of the administration after similar complaints in the past always ended in the same result. He accused the administration of instilling fear, confusion and relying on “public shaming” while leaving no room for discourse.
“To some students, let me confirm what you already might suspect, that if you don’t like your teachers holding you accountable, lie about them and the administration will believe you,” Strouse said.
As is common parliamentary procedure, the administration did not offer a response to any public commenters, thanked them for their time and moved on to other school issues.
After a special budget meeting on March 26, the next Board of Trustees meeting will take place on Tuesday, April 30.