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North High students protest possible loss of teacher

April 19, 1999

North students protestBy BRUCE HAMILTON / Staff Writer

photo: KEVIN G. GILBERT / staff photographer




North Hagerstown High School students held a brief protest Monday morning to show support for a teacher whose job is threatened.

Small groups of teenagers gathered at about 8:30 a.m. as buses arrived near the building's southern entrance. Some carried brightly colored signs with slogans such as, "If He's Out We'll Shout," and "Diegelman Stays Or North High Pays."

Jeffrey S. Diegelman is an English teacher in his second year at the school. Contacted before the protest, he said he was denied tenure. The students organized the demonstration themselves, he said.

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"He's a great teacher," said 10th-grader Kelly Schildtknecht, one of about 20 students participating in the protest. "Everybody loves him. He's like a big brother. We're here to save him."

Principal David Reeder emerged from the school a few minutes after the protest began. As he ushered students inside, several resisted. Chants of "Diegelman! Diegelman!" changed to "Hell, no! We won't go!"

The principal corralled the teens and the chants continued inside the school. By the beginning of the first period, the halls sounded peaceful.

Reeder said the students were not disorderly, but he wanted them to find another way to express themselves. He said he would welcome a meeting with a student representative.

"They're jumping the gun, to a certain extent. It's not a confirmed decision," the principal said. Reeder refused to discuss the teacher's contract further, saying it is a personnel matter.

Washington County teachers are given one-year contracts for their first two years, after which they may be given tenure.

A recommendation not to renew contracts is made jointly between the school principal and the Washington County Board of Education's human resources department. The School Board itself makes the final decision.

The School Board is expected to vote on teachers' contracts Tuesday.

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