Ottawa students protest teacher layoff, program cancellation

March 19, 2014 (OTTAWA, Ill.)

Activists say more than 200 students staged a protest at the school on Tuesday after the announcement that instructor Dave Keely would be dismissed and the Building Trades program which he taught would end.

Members of the school board made the controversial decision Monday night. An unnamed school board member says enrollment in the program had dropped by more than 50%, and that the school could not afford to keep a full-time instructor for a program with so few students.

About 130 students were given 3-day suspensions after failing to return to class after the demonstration became "unruly," school officials said. Students who were part of the protest but returned to class were not penalized.

Several dozen students and supporters kept up the protest on Wednesday outside school property.

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