Student tattles on Teacher for Criticizing Bush
By Nicholas Riccardi, Times Staff Writer
March 4, 2006
DENVER — It was the day after President Bush's State of the Union address, and social studies teacher Jay Bennish was warning his world geography class not to be taken in.
"Sounds a lot like the things that Adolf Hitler used to say," Bennish told students at the suburban high school Feb. 2. " 'We're the only ones who are right, everyone else is backward and our job is to conquer the world.' "
The teacher quickly made clear that he wasn't equating Bush with Hitler, but the damage was done. A sophomore in the class had recorded the lecture on an MP3 player, and turned it over this week to a local conservative talk radio show.
Bennish, who has taught at Overland High School for five years, was placed on paid leave Wednesday by the Cherry Creek School District, sparking an uproar over issues of free speech and teacher conduct.
About 150 Overland students walked out of class Thursday to protest Bennish's absence, and the teacher's lawyer — who met with district officials Friday — has threatened a federal lawsuit.