A teacher at Oakland High School in Murfreesboro has been suspended without pay for pulling out a pocket knife in class in what a spokesperson for Rutherford County Schools called “a poor choice in an attempt at humor.”
James Evans said Preston Johnson, a chemistry teacher, took out his pocket knife in a non-threatening way after several exchanges of horseplay between several students and the teacher.
“The distance between the teacher and the student was at least six feet and the knife was held vertical to the floor. It was not pointed at the student,” Evans said in a statement.
The principal at the school interviewed the students as part of the investigation and said each student interpreted Johnson’s act as joke.
Johnson was suspended for one day without pay because, while his action was inappropriate, it was not threatening, according to Evans.
Parent Jennifer Hurst agrees that the incident was inappropriate.
“A teacher shouldn’t be pulling out a pocket knife or anything of that manner in front of children,” she said.
Hurst added, “As a teacher in the community, you need to set an example, and we don’t want children thinking that’s okay so he shouldn’t be doing that.”
Andrew Cina, a senior at Oakwood and former student of Johnson’s, said he knows Johnson likes to joke around with the students, but that he’s a great teacher.
“I consider him a teacher. I knew when to respect him, but also I would consider him a buddy as well,” Cina explained.
The school district says it takes incidents such as this very seriously and launched their investigation immediately.