Shawnee Mission North teacher suspended for mentioning porn-film title in class, kids say

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. — A teacher who has been a part of the Shawnee Mission North faculty for almost 12 years has been suspended, reportedly due to a comment he made about obscenity laws.

Ben Keech teaches American Government and according to one of his students, school leaders overreacted to a discussion and the memorable comment he made that was later taped to his desk as a sort of keepsake to learning.

“We were talking about the history of pornography how it used to have to be purchased at like Blockbuster, like at video stores,” said Tanner Erb, a student. “He was talking about how one girl can walk in there and get 101 Dalmatians and you could walk in there, being a lonely adult male, and get a movie ’101 Ways to Do your Mom’ and how ironic that was,” said Erb.

Erb told FOX 4′s Shannon O’Brien that Keech encourages his students to write down funny or interesting quotes they hear in class, and then tape them on the front of his desk.

They are called “Keech Quotes”. The quote about the “101 Ways to Do Your Mom” made it up there.

“Everyone got a kick out of it, everyone laughed and that’s the quote that she wrote down and put up on the desk,” said Erb.

Since his suspension, Keech’s Quotes have been taken down and replaced with encouraging messages from students.

Some parents who spoke to FOX 4 about the suspension think it’s an extreme reaction, especially two weeks before school ends.

“At first I was thinking there was going to be more to the story. I kept thinking it had to be something bigger than this because it seems like a really minor thing to suspend a teacher over,” said Taryn Heath, Tanner’s mother.

“When we begin micromanaging everything our teachers say, then we are walking a really fine line. We begin to take out of education what they have to offer. The passion that they have to give to their students,” she said.

Keech  has hired an attorney and is to report before the school board for a hearing.

School district officials declined to comment on the suspension, but did say Mr. Keech has been a teacher at Shawnee Mission North since July 1, 2002.

59 comments

  • Katherine Howe

    One presumption after another. The child is not identified. The man in the photo is not identified. The YEAR the photo was taken is not identified. These people could look very different today. To presume anyone is “crushed” is just plain a huge leap. More evidence that he is crushing her in the photo than evidence of any other crushing. Ha. Ha.
    Let that irony go over your head as well.

    • Erin

      Wow! Can you say insensitive? Of course the photo is of the man involved and an innocent child. And you are completely wrong! I know this girl personally, so yes, crushed is accurate. Learn how to use correct terminology. Perhaps you need an educator like Mr.Keech. I’m not following your last two statements. Your grammar is questionable. Referring to the man in the photo as crushing her? I am finished arguing with stupid.

  • Gary

    Shame on the conservative minority that caused this suspension…….the student, parent, administrator, legal body that felt it necessary to pursue this issue to a formal hearing. Let’s just hope that when Mr. Keech is exonerated from this ridiculous, farce of a hearing, that if he decides to return to his position at SMN, his teaching style and the style of other teachers who will be watching the outcome won’t be forever altered to the detriment of future students.

  • Sherre Foreman

    “Everything is so bad right now. And I’m legit angry because he (Ben Keech) and Grampa are the only ones who taught me what a father is supposed to teach me.” This is a quote from a student of Mr. Keech’s who is very dear to me. Due to Mr. Keech’s influence, this student has chosen to enter the teaching profession. We know Mr. Keech to be a man of the highest integrity & morals w/a deep & abiding love for teaching & his students. We are saddened by the actions taken by the SMSD & respectfully suggest they immediately return this man of sterling character to his classroom & students @ SMN.

  • Andy F

    This 2011 grad supports Keech 100%. Such a silly little thing to get in trouble over. High schoolers are not children! The real reason he got suspended was probably over the fact that he allows debate in the classroom. The shawnee mission school district does not like it when you have a different opinion. It is almost always the more popular teachers who get in trouble (see: THE Mr Scott.)FREE KEECH!

  • kat

    This to me is a little to much because i see it as he was giving any example that apply-ed to the lesson that was being tough. It wasn’t like he was describing the porn video to the hole class or showing them the video. No he was giving any example of a name. just a signal name.

    i cant believe that they are flipping out over just mentioning a name. If all of you remember the
    http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation-now/2014/05/02/porn-suspension-high-school/8609291/
    this is a link to any articular referring to the Harmon school incandescent which was about a teacher turning on the projector that was hock to HIS laptop and displayed the image so a students took a picture of it and he was the one how got suspended

    That right there is the biggest mistake of all. That teacher had porn on HIS COMPUTER. know lest look at this. A kids take a picture for evidences of his teachers computer. Contacting a pornographic image. Not knowing what to do with said evidence. The student gets suspend.
    DO you see where this is problem. I have friends how go to school here and they where appalled about how this was handled.
    All i have to say is…

    Bravo Kansas city schools for really know how to fix problems like that.
    So this right here is a perfect example of how well this is being solved.
    i go to Shawnee mission northwest and i also have many friends how go to Shawnee mission north and all of them are out raged on how redundant this is for Mr. Keech just teaching a lesson.
    To me this is the one of the most redundant things the school broad has done. I would understand it more IF HE ACTUALLY SHOWED PORNOGRAPHIC PICTURES OR VIDEOS TO THIS CLASS. not buy saying a tittle of any adult film… to me this should have been solved between The principal of the school and Mr. Keech or who ever reported him instead of suspending him tell the end of the school year.

    so as you can see i’m a bit flustered at how the school is handling this situation. Thought i never meet Mr. Keech all i have heard about him have been very positive things. And all of my friends how have/had him say his lessons are never boring he inspires his students to go for there dreams. And i personally think just from hearing my friends talk very Highly of him makes me think that he shouldn’t get suspended for this indecent.

    If the school bored does not take him back then i will be very unhappy and disappointed in there system of justice they way the run the school district and how they handle situation along with how they cant see how blind they are at what they are doing. There taking away a wonderful teacher how has done absolutely nothing wrong all because he gave any example of a tittle of a porn movie in his lesson.

    #freekeech

  • Elisha

    I graduated SMN last year. Keech was one of my favorite teachers there.. He taught me and my older brothers whom enjoyed his class also. He is a great teacher; he teaches in a way that us students could actually relate to. Just because his teaching methods aren’t traditional does not mean they are wrong.. Everyone knows that Keech is a good man with very high morals. Cancer took my mom away from me the year I had him and he always made sure I was alright told me I could sit outside in the hall if i needed to.. or go to the counselors, or he would be free to talk after class. He also asked how my brother were handling it and told me that If we ever needed anything he was there.. I don’t see how you could possibly suspend a guy like that?? Especially when we have bigger issues. My chemistry teacher said “I know the cure for cancer, it’s a bullet to the head” and when I took that to the administration all I got was my schedule changed because I refused to be in his class and an apology… where was his suspension at? Huh?

  • Michelle

    This wasn’t his first warning. I’m a former student of his who he gave detention because I agreed with the death penalty in some cases. I was failing his class because of MY personal religious beliefs. I never said what religion I was in class, just stated I didn’t agree with Christianity. I was then repeatedly called out for my “blasphemous, heathen” religion for the rest of the semester. He told me that I could improve my grade by converting to Christianity in his Jesus club after school and attended meetings for the rest of the year. If you didn’t agree with everything he said, it was held against you and used against you. It’s about time something was done. Opposition is apart of debates, it’s what they are about, but was not allowed in his class

    • Lisa

      What? That sounds pretty out there….did you talk to admin about it? Did he actually call you or your beliefs “blasphemous and heathen”? I can’t believe a teacher would tell you that he would improve your grade by you converting to Christianity….that is just all kinds of messed up! I am a teacher and I would be hung at dawn for such things……why didn’t you take this higher up the food chain if the principal didn’t believe you……

  • john

    To clarify, in the AP Government curriculum, when teaching freedom of speech, pornography and the power of the government to regulate is a topic. Homosexuality, abortion, pornography (one justice stated, “I’ll know it when I see it”) are all a part of an adult conversation for informed and educated voters. Ideas don’t take away innocence. They take away ignorance. A conservative lawyer (and now college professor) once worked as a clerk for the Supreme Court. One of his jobs was to watch pornography for a blind justice, describing in intimate detail the scenes. He related this experience to teachers. Should they not be able to share the same story? Where do we draw the line? Our government’s responsibility is to take care of all of us, not just “squeaky wheelers”. There is nothing wrong with words. It is the image that you create in your head that is so powerful. Don’t blame the media, a decaying society, or irony. We live the life we choose, and we only get to rule our life. Stop blaming, and let’s start understanding each other a bit better. Disagree in a more agreeable manner. The child should not have been shown, as if she had committed a crime, it would have been against the law to show her image. To tie her to a negative story is detrimental, and any parent would agree. You have a right to your opinion. That doesn’t make it fact, on either side. You have a right to disagree, but the least you can do is become informed of the rules that govern our society. It seems that is what he was trying to do. Rather than simply regurgitating information, the students should be encouraged to think and form fact supported views. The reality of life is often very messy. Why don’t we like our children to know the invisible rules that govern this life? Why do we not trust them to make informed decisions? Why do we fear everything so much? If we have open conversations with our children, we teach them our morals, they don’t have to find them from teachers. Don’t blame teachers for our failures as parents. Don’t blame other parents or teachers because they choose a different life than ours. That is what freedom truly is. Our ability to choose. That is what we say we cherish so much. Let’s not forget what that ultimately means.

  • Nicole Robertson

    He is a GREAT teacher! I only went to SMN for a little less than a year and he is the only teacher I can really say I learned something from. really challenged me to think about the bigger picture. I have often thought back to his teaching as being an adult now. This is a really dumb reason for him to get in trouble.

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