A planned student protest in support of arrested teacher SabrinaMilo fizzled in the face of police presence, increased security andthreats of suspension from administrators at Fort Hamilton HighSchool last Friday afternoon.
The rumored walk-out, planned via word-of-mouth and socialnetworking, was scheduled to take place between noon and 1 p.m. -one week after Milo, a 10-year veteran art teacher, was taken intopolice custody on charges of making terroristic threats thatreferenced the infamous school massacre at Columbine.
Despite what some perceived as a threat to their safety and thesafety of their teachers, many students rejected the idea that thepopular and quirky educator would ever do anything to harmthem.
She’s a really nice person, said Jennifer, a junior at FortHamilton, who said she had taken Milo’s class. I think [thecharges] are an exaggeration. A lot of people wanted to walk outtoday.
As to why they didn’t, though, the eleventh grader said thatnobody wanted to run the risk of getting in trouble, with policecars, vans and golf carts stationed outside all three exits fromthe school.
There was an announcement at 12 [noon] that the cops would beoutside, so people decided not to go, she said. The dean hadpeople checking IDs and programs to make sure [we were allowed toleave].
Another potential reason for the lackluster protest response wasthe fact that Milo herself spoke up in her own defense in atelevision interview with ABC News early Friday morning.
Sitting next to her husband, Lee Anderson, a Vietnam veteran whofounded the high school’s Junior ROTC program, the 34-year-old toldthe world that she wasn’t thinking and it didn’t even occur tome that the foolish statement I made would be perceived as aterrorist threat.
But, it had been. On March 29, English teacher Gloria Mingionetold the school principal, Jo Ann Chester, that Milo had criedabout wanting to bring a machine gun under a trench coat in anevent that would be Columbine all over again. The principal thencontacted police.
At her arraignment on April 3, Milo’s lawyer, Andrew Stoll,stated that his client is no threat to anybody and needs to bemedicated, not incarcerated.
If convicted, Milo faces up to seven years in prison. A judgeset bail at $100,000, which Anderson paid. The Department ofEducation (DOE) has temporarily reassigned her to administrativeduties.
The DOE had previously reassigned Milo in May, 2010, for hittinga student on the hand with a ruler. Other students had defended herat the time, saying that she was aiming for their classmate’s cellphone. She returned to her position at Fort Hamilton inSeptember.