Suspended teacher speaks out before district hearing

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OVERLAND PARK, Kan. -- Shawnee Mission North teacher Ben Keech is speaking out for the first time since he was abruptly suspended over a week ago.

The Shawnee Mission North American Government teacher arrived at the Shawnee Mission School District offices to a crowd of students and parents supporting his effort to be reinstated, on Monday.

"I`m feeling like it`s a great day," said Keech, who also said he was nervous. "I`m just going to go in and talk, so we`ll see what happens."

Administrators pulled the teacher out of the school for making what they consider an inappropriate comment during a lecture about obscenity laws, but parents like Jillian Williams think they made a bad decision.

"I didn`t feel like it was inappropriate. I think the district took it out of proportion," said Williams.

The FOX 4 camera and reporter who were on the scene were not allowed into the hearing. District officials saying the hearing was closed because it is a personnel issue. For that reason, they would`t make a comment either. Parents and students are talking though.

"I thought it was important for my boys to exercise the rights that Mr. Keech has taught them and stand up for what they believe in, " said Williams.

The student protest started in front of the district headquarters and students were quickly kicked to the curb, as security personnel kept a close watch on the protestors.

Madison McLenon is graduating this year and had Mr. Keech her last semester senior year.

"We`re just here to say, ‘hey, he means something to us and Shawnee Mission North needs him back," said McLenon.

"I feel like I have passion for something that I haven`t had before, like I really support him, he`s a great guy and he`s really impacted my life," said Katie Murnan, who organized this show of support. "He's like one of my favorite teachers."

After the hearing, Keech`s wife came out alone, saying her husband has been told not to talk to the media or say anything about what went on in the hearing. Keech`s attorney also said no comment.

While we don`t know the fate of Mr. Keech`s job, on his way into the hearing, he said, "Shawnee Mission North is a great school. Great kids, great families. So, I`m humbled, honored."

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