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Benzel Breaks Boundaries

History Teacher at RHS Placed on Paid Leave for Comments on Walkout

Organized+on+social+media%2C+RHS+students+walk+out+of+class+at+11%3A45+in+support+of+Mrs.+Julianne+Benzel
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Benzel Breaks Boundaries

Organized on social media, RHS students walk out of class at 11:45 in support of Mrs. Julianne Benzel

Organized on social media, RHS students walk out of class at 11:45 in support of Mrs. Julianne Benzel

Organized on social media, RHS students walk out of class at 11:45 in support of Mrs. Julianne Benzel

Organized on social media, RHS students walk out of class at 11:45 in support of Mrs. Julianne Benzel

Naeirika Neev

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In a nationally televised interview this morning Mrs. Julianne Benzel said she planned to return to teaching her history classes Monday after missing three days this week, two of them on administrative leave due to controversies around Wednesday’s national walkout regarding school violence.

The story began last  Wednesday when  teachers and administration were gathered in a staff meeting and informed on the March 14 walkout promoting school safety. At Rocklin arguably it was made more of a memorial.

Mrs. Julianne Benzel, who has been teaching history at Rocklin High School since 1998 was placed on administrative paid leave due to comments made which upset some students and parents.

On Wednesday, March 14th, one month after the Parkland High School shooting in Florida, thousands of students participated in a nation-wide walkout in protest to gun violence.

The administration chose to “give permission” to protesters, which angered both students protesting and those questioning the event including Mrs. Julianne Benzel. The school limited to gathering to the 17 minutes and it was framed as a memorial. It included two minutes of silence. 

Benzel brought up the walkout in her history classes and questioned other issues they might walk out for, including using abortion as an example. The district received complaints and she was put on administrative leave Wednesday and Thursday.

According to Benzel, “apparently there was two students and one parent who had issues with that” and they “basically targeted [her].”

Benzel says that she never discouraged students from participating in the event, but the discussion that she opened up in her history class and the comments she made caused complaints that placed her in paid administrative leave on the day of the national walkout, Wednesday, and Thursday, and landed her on national news.

However, not all students felt uncomfortable or offended during the discussion.

“We were just having a discussion about the double standard. I think she just wanted to warn us of the potential consequences of participating in the walk out. It actually led to a really good discussion,” said junior, Haley Bradbury about being in the classroom at the time of the discussion.

She was contacted and told that she was clear to come back to work on Friday, March 16th, though she chose to stay home and return on Monday.

“I just kind of used the example, which I know it’s really controversial, but I know it was the best example I thought of at the time — a group of students nationwide, or even locally, decided ‘I want to walk out of school for 17 minutes’ and go in the quad area and protest abortion, would that be allowed by our administration?” she said in an interview with a local CBS affiliate.

She says that the students understood where she was coming from and did not get any backlash from them at the time. However multiple students reported to the Flash they were uncomfortable during the discussion.

A former student was also concerned about learning the rest of the story.

“While I had Benzel and she is one of my favorite teachers, I think the reaction to this administrative leave is absurd,” he said. “No one knows what really happened other than RHS administration and Mrs. Benzel and students do not know the full story. Mrs. Benzel always told me to look for the missing perspective and in this case, we are missing the perspective of the school. I am suspicious that she is using the national media to destroy RHS’s reputation and seems to be using her platform to promote an agenda.”

In interviews, Benzel continued to frame it as a discussion.

“I opened up the discussion if schools, not only just our school and our administration, but across the country, are going to allow one group of students to get up during class and walk out to protest one issue, would they still give the same courtesy to another group of students who wanted to get up and walk out to protest, and I used the example of abortion” she further elaborated on an interview with “Fox and Friends” Friday morning. 

A statement from Diana Capra at  Rocklin School District Statement says, “The teacher was not penalized or placed on leave based on her viewpoints… 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.

4 Comments

4 Responses to “Benzel Breaks Boundaries”

  1. Ann Bruce de Pineda on March 18th, 2018 7:21 am

    One of the problems with making abortion legal and available even without parental permission is that many young women have an abortion and later understand that they have killed their own child, often their first. They may come from a legalistic background that offers no redemption. When their children come home mentioning a protest against abortion, they have to defend themselves because maybe they had one or more abortions so they wouldn’t have to stop studying or stop working. Christ forgives even the worst of sins. Having an abortion is, in my opinion, murder, but Paul was responsible for many murders. He persecuted Christians and stood by as Stephen was stoned to death. All it takes is repentance. Jesus said to the woman caught committing adultery: Go and sin no more. One of my European students, age 14, said she didn’t understand why her Latin American classmates were so worried about being sexually active when they could always have an abortion if they got pregnant. For mentioning to her that having an abortion may seem like the right decision but later might cause serious depression, I was interrogated and would have been fired if I hadn’t been old enough for retirement.

  2. Ann Bruce de Pineda on March 18th, 2018 7:25 am

    Another student in the class was the granddaughter of Baptist missionaries in China. She was also 14. My grandsons are in public school in the Bay Area. That’s why this double standard bothers me so much.

  3. Becky Stokes on March 20th, 2018 5:21 am

    Julianne Benzel is not harming the school’s reputation. The school is harming its own reputation. It is now known the students do not think for themselves or know how to think for themselves. By high school age, students should know how to debate and that there are opinions other than that school’s opinion.
    Non-discrimination policy? I think you should take that off your information page.

  4. alejandro gonzales on March 20th, 2018 11:17 am

    Violence in the first paragraph is spelled incorrectly.

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