We reported Thursday just hours after the oil and gas task force meeting was underway that Jefferson High School students were witnessed disembarking from their Weld County school bus and joining in a protest staged by environmental activists who opposed fracking.
Theresa Myers, communications director of Greeley-Evans School District 6, assured us that the field trip was designed to learn about both sides of the fracking issue. This was despite evidence to the contrary from numerous photos of the students that were posted on Twitter.
— Marjorie Haun (@Reagan_Girl) January 15, 2015
And now more details have emerged that suggest the incident was not an innocent fluke.
Watchdog.org reported that a student was actually shouting at a pro-fracking supporter who was holding a sign that said, “I support Oil and Gas,” calling her “immature.” The teacher, Rob Liebman, did not appear to discourage the students from participating. In fact it seems he was actually encouraging them to protest.
A small group of individuals, locals, and those involved in the oil and gas industry, stood near the protesters holding signs in support of oil and gas. Liebman directed his students to stand in front of the pro-energy citizens and block them by holding up their “ban fracking” signs, which they did. He then took out a camera and snapped a number of photographs of them doing so.
Despite the rules of the meeting, which forbade the display of signs, some of Liebman’s students held the “Ban Fracking Now” signs on their laps and, at times, held them up for onlookers to see. Only minutes after the meeting began and introductions of the members of the Task Force were made, the Jefferson High teacher, paraprofessional aide, and students left the meeting.
Steve Hall, a member of the District 6 Board of Education, said the incident showed poor timing and judgment, while Interim Superintendent Wayne Eads agreed with Hall regarding poor judgment.
According to the Greeley Tribune, Eads said the incident has been a topic of concern. “Our team has traded a lot of discussion about this. I talked with (Greeley Mayor Tom) Norton about this. It did not look good.”
Call us skeptical, but some Colorado teachers have no shame when it comes to using their students as a protesting prop for issues they deem worthy.
Teacher unions spring to mind.
We don’t know what Leibman had in mind when he handed those signs to his charges, but we’re hopeful school officials will hold him accountable and offer a full public explanation as to how the student’s field trip escalated from learning mission, to becoming activist minions.