Former WFISD teacher speaks out after firing

Published: Mar. 22, 2023 at 6:41 PM CDT
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WICHITA FALLS, Texas (KAUZ) - Former Wichita Falls ISD teacher Jeremiah Taylor is speaking out after the school board voted unanimously to terminate his contract on Monday.

The district said the termination stems from an incident that took place between Taylor and a student at Hirschi High School back in November. Taylor was charged with a felony, but the case was later dropped.

While he is not surprised by the district’s decision, he wants to clear his name. Taylor has maintained his innocence and was waiting for the opportunity to tell his side of the story to the district, but that’s something he said he never got the chance to do.

During an incident on Nov. 1, Taylor had to restrain a student from an altercation. He was notified the next day that he was being put on administrative leave for using an “unapproved restraint” and that he “jerked” the student in an aggressive manner, after the district reviewed the surveillance video.

“By the next week, I would have a phone call to come in and review the video and speak about my half of the story and tell them what took place from my point of view,” Taylor said. “That has yet to happen to this day.”

On Nov. 7, Taylor was charged with a felony, but in January when the case was presented to a grand jury, Taylor’s case was ultimately dismissed, and a no bill was issued.

“They reviewed it and simply said you did exactly what you trained to do,” Taylor said. “The DA said the same thing. Let’s get it no billed, he did what he was supposed to do. There is no assault on a student. There is no injury to a child.”

Taylor said he was asked to join the Handle With Care program, saying it’s designed to instruct teachers on how to hold and restrain a student legally when faced with an altercation.

“The idea is to swiftly and abruptly get them in a hold before they have a chance to do any further harm or get away, so exactly as I was trained to do, I swiftly got him in a hold, upright, open palm to the back and went to the office as trained,” Taylor said. “There was no assault to a student because I would never do that anyway.”

Taylor said this has happened numerous times and he has always followed protocol when faced with incidents like this.

“It is a disturbing thing to even have to put a kid in a restraint, period,” Taylor said. “You do it to protect themselves, protect others and yourself in some cases. I have had to protect just about every teacher in that school and most kids from each other as well and it is never fun. It is a heartbreaking thing to have to do, but there is a reason for it and I understand that reason.”

Taylor said he has never had any issues during his five years with the district at both Lamar Elementary and Hirschi High School.

“I was always told thank you,” Taylor said. “I had teachers praise me in the hallways for being there. Matter of fact, teachers in the afternoon would come to me and tell me how thankful they were that I was there in the afternoons because it made their life a little easier in the hallways just because we have a male figure who is there, who is going to try and keep a little order in the halls and it was effective.”

The most disappointing part for him is he feels like he let his students down.

“I am just upset because I made those kids a promise and I do every year,” Taylor said. “I am going to see you through this and we are going to get certified and we are going to turn you into somebody who has a skillset that you can do something with and go be a positive contributing member to society.”

Superintendent Dr. Donny Lee said Taylor can appeal the board’s decision.

“As soon as I receive any sort of communication from the district, I plan to appeal that immediately,” Taylor said. “I plan to bring my case to the school board and I would like that to be in a open session so the public can be witness to that. If I don’t succeed with the school board, I will be working my way up to the commissioner of TEA.”

Mel Martinez, the former music teacher at Booker T. Washington Elementary School, also saw his contract terminated this week. News Channel 6 reached out to Martinez, who declined to comment on the board’s decision.