A Florida Atlantic University professor who ordered his class to write the name ‘Jesus’ on pieces of paper and then stomp on it – has been placed on administrative leave — not because of the assignment – but because of his personal safety.
Deandre Poole “as been placed on administrative leave effective immediately for safety reasons,” read a statement released by the university. “As a result of the reaction to a recent exercise in Dr. Poole’s intercultural communications class, the instructor’s personal safety has been compromised.”
The university did not elaborate on the safety concerns – but said the decision would prevent further disruptions at the school.
They said alternate instructors have been assigned to teach Poole’s classes.
Poole, who also serves as vice chair of the Palm Beach County Democratic party, created a national firestorm after he ordered his class to stomp on ‘Jesus’.
Ryan Rotela, a devout Mormon was in the classroom and refused to obey the instructor’s directions. When he complained, Rotela was banned from the classroom and charged with violating the student code of conduct.
After Rotela retained the legal services of the Liberty Institute, the university had a change of heart – profusely apologizing and promising to clear his record.
The decision to remove Poole from the classroom came a few days after Fla. Gov. Rick Scott called on the state university chancellor to launch an investigation into the incident.
“As we enter the week memorializing the events of Christ’s passion, this incident gave me great concern over the lessons we are teaching our students,” Scott wrote in the letter to Chancellor Frank Brogan. “The professor’s lesson was offensive, and even intolerant, to Christians and those of all faiths who deserve to be respected as Americans entitled to religious freedom.”
Scott said in his letter that he was “deeply disappointed” by the controversy.
Scott said the incident raised questions about “the lessons being taught in our classrooms.” He said he wanted a report on the incident and how it was handled, as well as a statement of the university’s policies to ensure such “lessons” don’t occur again.
State University System spokeswoman Kim Wilmath said officials would work closely with FAU in preparing a response to the governor’s concerns.
“The State University System prides itself not only on its commitment to academic freedom, but at the same time, its awesome responsibility to the people it serves,” she said in a written statement. “We are gratified to know that FAU has apologized for any offense the exercise has caused and has pledged never to use this exercise again. Clearly, there were things the university could have done differently by its own acknowledgement.”
On Tuesday afternoon FAU released a video statement from Charles Brown, the school’s senior vice president of student affairs.
“On behalf of all us here at FAU, we are deeply sorry for any hurt this incident might have caused our students, people in the community and beyond,” Brown said. “As an institution of higher education, we embrace academic freedom. but with that comes a level of responsibility which we did not uphold.”
Brown said the lesson would no longer be used at FAU.
“It was insensitive and deeply hurtful and we are deeply sorry,” he said.
The governor didn’t seem satisfied with the apology, saying it was “in many ways inconsequential to the larger issue of a professor’s poor judgment.”
“Our public higher educational institutions are designed to shape the minds of Florida’s future leaders,” Scott wrote. “We should provide educational leadership that is respectful of religious freedom of all people.”