BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - A group of high school teenagers gathered in the rain Wednesday to show support for their former teacher who was arrested for allegedly punching a student in the face.
The McKinley High students rallied for Richard Haywood. He faces a charge of cruelty to a juvenile for the incident. The charge is a felony.
Sarah Corie is a junior at McKinley. She organized the rally in support of Haywood. He was arrested last week by the East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff's Office. Corie said the accusations against Haywood sound totally out of character for the teacher she knows and loves.
"When I first heard about it, I heard about it in passing and I really didn't think it was a big deal," said Corie. "I just thought, 'Wow, that's crazy.' Then, I heard he was arrested for this and I was completely shocked."
Samantha Frie and her dad, Gery, said Haywood is an asset the school can't afford to go without.
"I just think they should both be reprimanded and come back," the younger Frie stated. "We already have a shortage of teachers and we don't need to lose any more."
"I think he would be difficult to replace," her father added. "He had a character that really seemed to make the children appreciate the study. And, I think it would be a difficult type of role to replace this teacher."
The whole group hopes the school district will realize how important he is to McKinley and the lives of the students. Supporters hope school officials let him back, no matter the outcome of the court case.
"I would just remind them how much Mr. Haywood has done for McKinley High. He's not only taught us for like 16 years, he's organized all the dances, he was in charge of the SGA and everything, and it's just a huge loss," Corie explained.
The East Baton Rouge Parish School System placed Haywood on administrative leave while the incident is investigated.
He has taught at the school for 12 years.
According to the school's website, Haywood taught social studies to gifted students.