Many support suspended Clinton HS teacher as he fights to get job back

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CLINTON, Mo. -- Some students at one area high school are upset over the suspension of a popular teacher and coach. The instructor at Clinton High School is accused of fixing grades for select students in his classes.

A crowded public meeting was filled with students on Wednesday night who support Jon Barber. Clinton School District leaders say in addition to falsifying grades, the tenured teacher allowed some students to skip class altogether.

Barber’s attorney Mark Nastaff says he had a good reason for doing so.

In eight years of teaching at Clinton High School, Barber's attorney says he never imagined a proceeding like this. Clinton High School Principal Dr. Bryan Pettengill told school board leaders that two students came to him with complaints that Barber told them to skip his class, and in exchange, he'd pass them with a C-grade.

Students told FOX 4 news Barber did that because the rowdy students were a distraction to other students.

Nastaff says Barber did what he did to preserve the classroom atmosphere for other learners.

“My client believes what he was doing was in the best interest of the students, and if he has, in some way, violated board policy, he's going to ask the board for better direction and try to get his job back,” Nastaff told FOX 4’s Sean McDowell.

Students packed the library at the district's middle school -- some of them wearing T-shirts showing support for Barber. Freshman Nathaniel Rodgers said Barber did the right thing.

“I think he did it because the students were a disruption in the class and he wanted to make his class a better place for learning,” Rodgers said.

Senior Allison Lutjen says the district should keep Barber in his position, because he's an instructor that challenges students to learn.

“He's the best teacher I've ever had. He's phenomenal. His classes are the hardest I've ever taken. It's a lot of information to commit to memory, but he does a great job of teaching it,” Lutjen said.

Wednesday night’s meeting is expected to go into the evening hours. Barber’s attorney says the district will likely render a decision within the next 20 days.

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