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The Blaze
The Blaze
8 Apr 2023

NextImg:Florida teacher fired for instructing students to write their own obituaries before active shooter drill, says he's 'done nothing wrong'

A Florida teacher was fired hours after instructing students to write their own obituaries ahead of an active shooter drill on campus. The teacher said he has done nothing wrong and doesn't regret the lesson plan.

Psychology teacher Jeffrey Keene gave the controversial assignment to 11th and 12th-graders on Tuesday at the Dr. Phillips High School in Orlando. Keene asked students in his first-period class to write their own obituaries.

Keene said he told his students that the lesson "isn't a way to upset you or anything like that."

By the second-period class, students informed the teacher that school officials interviewed them about the assignment. A school supervisor came to the class to observe the lesson. Before the second-period class, Keene said he gave students a disclaimer after one pupil became upset in the first class.

Before the end of the seventh period, Keene had been fired.

A spokesperson for Orange County School District said in statement, "Dr. Phillips High School families were informed that a teacher gave an inappropriate assignment about school violence. Administration immediately investigated and the probationary employee has been terminated."

Keene, who had just been hired at the school in January, was not a member of the union, so he reportedly has no recourse to reverse the district's decision.

The teacher of 15 years is appealing his termination.

Keene, 63, did not regret his lesson plan.

"It wasn't to scare them or make them feel like they were going to die, but just to help them understand what’s important in their lives and how they want to move forward with their lives and how they want to pursue things in their journey," Keene said.

He said of his lesson plan, "If they died 24 hours from now, what would they do differently than they did yesterday? And that’s to get them to get rid of all the fluff and show them what’s important in the world."

“It wasn’t to say, ‘You’re going to die, and let’s stress you out.'”

Keene asked, "If you can't talk real to them, then what's happening in this environment?"

"I don't think I did anything incorrectly," Keene told WOFL. "I know hindsight is 20/20, but I honestly didn't think a 16-, 17-, 18-year-old would be offended or upset by talking about something we're already talking about."

The teacher defiantly declared, "In my mind, I've done nothing wrong."

Keene recalled being fired, "When they said you have the option to resign without violating your contract, I said, ‘I didn’t do anything wrong.’ I said, ‘If I did, tell me what it is.’ They said, ‘We can’t do that.’ I said, 'In that case, since I don’t know what I did wrong, you can go ahead and terminate me without cause.'"

Keene hopes to find another teaching job and vowed not to change the way he teaches students.

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