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Teacher Suspended for Derogatory Remark About BYU; Initiates Riot

Teacher Suspended for Derogatory Remark About BYU; Initiates Riot

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MOSES LAKE, Wash. (AP) -- A science teacher who has been suspended since January, apparently for a derogatory crack about a Mormon-run university, was carried out of Moses Lake High School after "initiating a riot," officials said.

Four school personnel carried Samson "Sam" Lyman out of the building by his arms and legs Wednesday after he burst through the cafeteria doors and began yelling that he had been treated unfairly, peppering his language with obscenities, principal Dave Balcom said.

"When (school officials) approached him, he jumped on a chair and started initiating a riot in our school commons," Balcom said. "Unfortunately it led to us having to remove him."

Outside the building, Lyman was met by a police officer who escorted him off campus. Prosecutors will decide whether to charge him with trespassing and disorderly conduct, police Capt. James Jenkins said.

"We had to keep our school safe," Balcom said.

In an interview, Lyman said he was not arrested but added, "I was barred from every school building in the district."

Lyman later returned to the public sidewalk outside the school and resumed a sign-carrying protest that began days earlier, complaining that district officials in this eastern Washington town never provided a written explanation for his suspension.

Balcom and Superintendent Steven Chestnut confirmed that Lyman was on paid leave. "Beyond that, it's a personnel matter and I really can't comment," Chestnut said.

Balcom said he called an emergency staff meeting immediately after Lyman was evicted to provide some details on the administrative action against the teacher, who started working at the school in September.

"I feel bad for the kids, they had to experience that," he said. "This should not happen in a public school."

In the local newspaper, the Columbia Basin Herald, Lyman said he was suspended Jan. 30 following student complaints.

They included a remark he made about Brigham Young University, a school he attended in Provo, Utah. It is operated by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

"I told a joke about BYU. I called them Breed 'em Young University," he said. "I acknowledge I said that. I didn't say it to be offensive to the Mormon faith ... I sure do (regret it). I've never been out to hurt anybody's feelings."

Lyman said 79 students were interviewed over a three-day period. The number of complaints grew from four to 24 and then was reduced to only a few.

"I think it's a form of religious discrimination against me as an ex-Mormon," he said. "I feel I've been tried and convicted in this community. I will never know who made these false comments."

Lyman said he still had plenty of student support.

"I've had 52 students today come up to me and tell me I'm the best science teacher they've ever had," he said.

------ Information from: Columbia Basin Herald,

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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