Students Plead for Return of Popular Teacher
Students from Arundel High spoke before the school board in support of Andrew Cizek, a psychology and comparative government teacher who was reassigned last month.
Arundel High School students and parents spoke before the Anne Arundel County School Board Wednesday and urged the return of a popular psychology and social studies teacher.
Wearing T-shirts with the phrase "#BringBackCizek," they spoke with great emotion in support of Andrew Cizek, who was reassigned within the school system last month and is the subject of an ongoing investigation. Dozens of Arundel High students and parents also sat in the crowd to show their support.
“You cannot possibly imagine the tears that have been shed over this matter,” junior Kate Langdon said. “We are here to express our brokenheartedness over the removal of a perfectly innocent man.”
A Patch reporter was not in attendance Wednesday, but watched a live television broadcast of the testimony.
School officials have declined to reveal any details about the nature of the investigation. But students and parents both said Cizek was removed from Arundel after the discovery of a tweet from a female student, in which she made reference to being his “girlfriend.”
A review of Cizek’s Twitter account showed that he frequently interacted with students through the popular social media network Twitter.
Students and parents have insisted that the tweets in question were made in jest, and that there has been no inappropriate behavior.
“I wholeheartedly believe that Mr. Cizek is a great teacher, and that this was just a poor lapse of judgment,” said Donna Stubler, a parent of a student of Cizek’s. “Hopefully this can be turned into a learning experience, providing teachers, administrators and all school personnel with much-needed training.”
The school board urged students and parents to avoid speaking about the specifics of the case. Thus, the testimony largely centered on students’ classroom experience.
Students stressed Cizek's enthusiasm and ability to connect with students through a sense of humor and shared love of popular culture. They also said he was willing to set aside extra time for students who were struggling in class or dealing with other challenges.
Testimony Wednesday included a written statement from Olivia Piasecki, an Arundel senior who has acknowledged interacting with Cizek on Twitter but urged for his return. Her statement was read by a friend, Taylor Bromante.
“Sometimes I got lost amidst the high school drama, the studying and the hardships of everyday life, but knowing that someone would pause his life to hear about mine made the difference in every possible way,” Piasecki’s statement said.
Some of the most gripping testimony came from Uyen Nguyen, the senior class president, who revealed to the board that she suffered from anorexia and bulimia and had attempted suicide.
Cizek, she said, had spoken to the school counselor on her behalf. She said that the day before he was removed from Arundel, he comforted her in the school hallway after she left a difficult meeting involving the counselor and her father.
“I will always remember the words he said to me that morning, because those words saved my life," she said. "I dare not speak for the experiences of other students, but know for myself that I really don’t need to lose someone else, especially someone like Mr. Cizek.”
Nguyen said she hoped Cizek would return to the school before the end of the year.
"I want him to see myself and other students graduate, because he needs to know that he helped this happen," she said.