PPS will not fire Ockley Green Middle School teacher placed on l - KPTV - FOX 12

PPS will not fire Ockley Green Middle School teacher placed on leave

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PORTLAND, OR (KPTV) -

Portland Public Schools has decided not to fire a teacher who was placed on leave after a student walkout.

The decision comes after students and parents at Ockley Green Middle School rallied in support of social studies teacher Chris Riser.

PPS placed Riser on leave right before spring break, but the incident he was involved in happened on Feb. 9. 

After an assembly at Ockley Green involving Don't Shoot Portland, Riser decided to walk with the community activists to the Portland Police Bureau's North Precinct office. Several hundred students followed in an unauthorized protest, which school officials say was also dangerous.

Some students and teachers say other school staff members were part of the protest, and that Riser was singled out.

"When you're an outspoken male of color and you do really well in the classroom, it's a threat to the district, especially when you speak the truth," said Bryan Chu, teacher at Ockley Green.

"I want to see Mr. Riser come back into the classroom where he belongs. He did nothing wrong, nothing at all," said Soloria, student at Ockley Green.

The school district said the other teachers at the protest were only there to make sure that students were safe.

PPS Chief Human Resources Officer Kylie Rogers released a statement Tuesday night about the decision not to fire Riser that said, in part, "I am confident that the initial investigation was thorough and appropriately scoped. However, I now recognize that we missed an important opportunity to pause and hear critical school community voices. As we have always said, our concern about the February 9 walkout was solely over student safety. As a district, we remain deeply committed to racial equity, and we support our students' and employees' right to free speech."

Rogers also says the district is working to address the concerns of Ockley Green students and parents.

Students at the middle school on Wednesday morning were happy that their teacher won't be fired.

"Mr. Riser is a great teacher. He did nothing wrong, he was just speaking up for what he believed in and what we believed in," said Samanie Broadnax, 7th grader at Ockley Green.

FOX 12 learned this is not the first time Riser has come to the attention of the district. In 2015, FOX 12 interviewed him during a protest at a board meeting where he and others spoke out against standardized testing, calling it racist.

And a year ago, Riser and Chu spoke to the board about what they feel is the district's poor treatment of north Portland schools.

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