SANTA ANA, Fla.
(Reuters) – High school students from Florida’s largest school district on Thursday took to the school grounds for a day of protest after a teacher at a high school in Venice, Florida, said students must be nice to each other.
The teacher, Mariah “Mariah” Lewis, has been on paid leave since April and has been a subject of controversy after she called students “crying babies” during a speech at a graduation ceremony.
She was later fired for misconduct.
Lewis has been accused of encouraging students to act aggressively during the ceremony in an attempt to get attention, and students from Venice High School and the school district said they were not pleased with the way the teacher described the ceremony.
Lewis told students they were going to be happy when they get to Venice High school, and that they must be happy for those who have died or died a little too soon.
She said, “I want you to feel proud, for what they’ve accomplished.”
District officials said they have reached out to the Venice police and are investigating.
The district also announced a new policy that requires any student who has been suspended for disruptive conduct to undergo counseling and that students who are expelled or disciplined for disruptive behavior will not be allowed back into the classroom.
The Venice School District said it is investigating Lewis’ remarks, which were recorded on video, and is in the process of having her removed from her job.