Hillsborough high school students rally behind teacher who was denied e-learning position

Coronavirus

HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) – A high school teacher told 8 On Your Side he is contemplating a leave of absence after the school district denied him a teaching from home position.

“Students have choices, parents have choices. Apparently the only people in this equation who don’t have choices are teachers,” Ryan Haczynski said at Tuesday’s Hillsborough School Board meeting.

Haczynski teaches Theory of Knowledge, a required course for Strawberry Crest High School students in the International Baccalaureate program.

“One of the greatest things I’ve learned from his class is that every single decision involves around our ethical principles,” senior Srikar Parsi told 8 On Your Side. “So one question I had to the school board is like what moral principals is your decisions guided off upon?”

During his speech, Haczynski told the school board as much as he wants to return to the classroom, he is deeply worried what will happen when schools reopen next Monday during the coronavirus pandemic.

“Martin County has been open for nine days and the pediatric rate has already doubled,” he said. “We are a much bigger district than Martin county.”

Haczynski told 8 On Your Side his wife with underling health conditions got an e-learning position from Hillsborough Schools, but the district said he must be in school while also instructing students learning remotely.

“I thought it was kind of senseless for me to be forced into a hybrid position,” he said, “to go and then be compromised and potentially bring sickness home to my wife.”

8 On Your Side reached out to the school district about Haczynski’s in-person teaching assignment.

“Not every employee request could be granted a reasonable accommodation,” Chief of Communications Tanya Arja said in an email. “The district-based scheduling on the needs of students at each school. More than 100,000 students will be coming back to brick and mortar school beginning next Monday. The safety of our students and staff is our top priority. We must ensure our learners have the supports they need in-person and online.”

Parsi and several classmates from the IB program showed support for their teacher by attending the school board meeting.

“We’re just really mad that “Mr. H” is probably going to be forced into losing his job because he’s not able to choose between working from home or going to school,” Parsi said.

An online petition in support of Haczynski started Tuesday already had more than 2,600 signatures before midnight.

“I can’t believe this happened,” Haczynski told 8 On Your Side. “It’s been amazing. No matter what they decided I’ll remember this more than anything else.”

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