SALT LAKE CITY– Hundreds of students at Salt Lake City’s West High School walked out to show their support for Principal Ford White, who was placed on paid administrative leave this week.
Students left their classes at 9:40 am on Tuesday, some with signs saying ‘Free Ford’ among others. Many of them spoke highly of White.
The walkout became more raucous as students started throwing textbooks, water bottles and food back and forth in front of the school.
Students at the protest claimed that if the incident did indeed take place, White was acting in their best interest.
“He’s being helpful to his students and that’s what a principal should be first and foremost before anything else,” said one student. “If I were in that situation, Ford [White] did the nicest possible thing.”
The walkout appears to have been inspired on an Instagram account, @westhighspam. One of its posts read:
We are walking out for the sake of our principal, Ford White. He has done so many things for our school and the community. He has given our school so many opportunities from the trips to scholorships. Our support is needed for the situation he is in rn (right now). WE DONT WANT ANOTHER PRINCIPAL. “SHOW UP DO THE WORK N GET PAID BABY!
The users behind the account later went on to clarify what they say the situation was after students started asking why White had been placed on leave.
“Ford came across students who were drunk near the school. As far as we know, he helped them get home safely, instead of doing what the district thinks was right (call the cops). Now, Ford is at fault of his actions leading to his situation of leaving,” the account said.
View this post on Instagram
The story told by the Instagram account is in line with an email from a teacher at West High to Salt Lake district officials, obtained by the Deseret News, which said, “I witnessed today a situation where three students that were on the south lawn during third period … were intoxicated.”
The email continued:
One student was trying to lift the other student off the ground to sit her on the bench while the third student was lying on the ground. When I saw this, I asked Ford White if he knew what was happening. He then stated that he spoke with them already and they seemed fine. But watching what I had just witnessed I did not believe that they were OK. When I approached the two students that made it to the bench, I smelled a strong odor of alcohol.
According to the Deseret News, the Salt Lake City School District confirmed that White has been placed on paid administrative leave, but both district officials and White have so far declined comment on the alleged incident.
White has been principal at West High since 2017.
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