Denton, TX — A high school English teacher threatened to give two seniors zero grades on their required essays because of gun-related content.
But the two students “stuck to their guns.”
The Denton High School teacher evidently told his class they could write an essay about a fun or nice experience. One student wrote about going to a gun show and another recounted a hunting trip. Neither paper contained political content.
This prompted the teacher, identified in media accounts as Dewey Christian, to refuse to grade their homework unless they rewrote their essays on a topic unrelated to firearms. Both teens were also apparently reprimanded in front of the class.
Kimberly Williams, the mom of student Marshall Williams, subsequently headed over to the school and confronted the teacher (see video below) the next morning and requested an explanation. He claimed that he refused to grade the papers over concerns about school violence.
It appears that Christian subsequently backed down according to the Fox Dallas-Fort Worth affiliate. In a statement, the Denton School District stated the following:
“The teacher has accepted the paper and apologized to the student for misperceptions. The teacher’s intent was for guns not to be trivialized in any school situation because of recent events.”
Mrs. Williams and her son appear dissatisfied with the official response and still feel the teacher was unilaterally engaging in censorship of students’ free speech rights.
Do you think this teacher was attempting to suppress freedom of expression by taking issue with the content of the English papers that were otherwise allowed to be open-ended?