History teacher fired after emailing lawmakers criticizing proposed education bills

A local teacher from Arkansas Arts Academy said that he was terminated after sending an email to state lawmakers criticizing HB 1218 and HB 1231. Josh Depner is a social studies teacher at Arkansas Arts Academy. He told 40/29 News that after reading both bills, he was upset and frustrated […]

A local teacher from Arkansas Arts Academy said that he was terminated after sending an email to state lawmakers criticizing HB 1218 and HB 1231. Josh Depner is a social studies teacher at Arkansas Arts Academy. He told 40/29 News that after reading both bills, he was upset and frustrated with the proposals. In an email, using strong language, that was written to lawmakers, Depner wrote in part:”Your recent bill is an appalling attempt to FURTHER whitewash history. It is absolutely nothing less than an attempt to codify white supremacy in Arkansas schools. “Depner told 40/29 News that he was stressed and very emotional, due to the challenges he’s experienced teaching during the pandemic He said that he followed up with an apology email to state representatives writing in part: “I am sincerely sorry for how I addressed these concerns. It is no way to speak to anyone, regardless of any disagreements. I know that you are each faithful representatives of our state, and not any of the unsavory things I said out of contempt.”Depner told 40/29 that he received notice of his termination several hours after sending the emails. He said that he has a passion for teaching and cares about his students. He has appealed his termination to Arkansas Arts Academy officials and will have a reinstatement hearing this week. “I made a mistake in how I conveyed my concerns. I am earnestly sorry for that. I was fighting for something important, and I went about it in the wrong way during a time of heightened anxieties,” Depner said. An online petition was started by several students asking school administrators to hire him back. 40/29 reached out to Arkansas Arts Academy for comment on this incident. The School Board President released this statement:”Due to this being an ongoing personnel issue that requires privacy and confidentiality, the AAA school board and administration can not comment.”

A local teacher from Arkansas Arts Academy said that he was terminated after sending an email to state lawmakers criticizing HB 1218 and HB 1231.

Josh Depner is a social studies teacher at Arkansas Arts Academy. He told 40/29 News that after reading both bills, he was upset and frustrated with the proposals.

In an email, using strong language, that was written to lawmakers, Depner wrote in part:

“Your recent bill is an appalling attempt to FURTHER whitewash history. It is absolutely nothing less than an attempt to codify white supremacy in Arkansas schools. “

Depner told 40/29 News that he was stressed and very emotional, due to the challenges he’s experienced teaching during the pandemic

He said that he followed up with an apology email to state representatives writing in part:

“I am sincerely sorry for how I addressed these concerns. It is no way to speak to anyone, regardless of any disagreements. I know that you are each faithful representatives of our state, and not any of the unsavory things I said out of contempt.”

Depner told 40/29 that he received notice of his termination several hours after sending the emails. He said that he has a passion for teaching and cares about his students. He has appealed his termination to Arkansas Arts Academy officials and will have a reinstatement hearing this week.

“I made a mistake in how I conveyed my concerns. I am earnestly sorry for that. I was fighting for something important, and I went about it in the wrong way during a time of heightened anxieties,” Depner said.

An online petition was started by several students asking school administrators to hire him back.

40/29 reached out to Arkansas Arts Academy for comment on this incident. The School Board President released this statement:

“Due to this being an ongoing personnel issue that requires privacy and confidentiality, the AAA school board and administration can not comment.”

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