On April 15, 2009, two students at Hawthorne High School, in Alachua County, Florida outside Gainesville, bashed a live chicken to the ground, videotaped the episode, and posted it on the Internet. Meanwhile, students inside the school tortured chickens to death in an orgy of classroom cruelty, including decapitation and neck “popping,” under the eye of Future Farmers of America teacher, Allen Shaw. The YouTube video shows Robert Gordon bashing a chicken, while Patrick Dougan says “Rip him apart” and “This is animal cruelty.” They laugh as the chicken flops to death on the ground. Though Dougan and Gordon were arrested and charged with animal cruelty, the charges were reluctantly dropped by the State Attorney’s Office on technicalities. The YouTube video that sparked the law enforcement investigation can be seen at www.upc-online.org/hawthorne/.
Fueled by this episode, UPC president Karen Davis and executive director of Humane Educators Reaching Out (HERO), Susan Hargreaves, filed a Petition for Agency Action with the Florida Department of Education seeking “promulgation of new or clarified rules for humane treatment of animals and banning animal slaughter in K-12 classrooms pursuant to the statutory mandates of Florida education law.” The Petition hopes to end animal abuse in Florida schools and foster compassion and respect to all living creatures.
Excerpt from the Petition: “The orgy of cruelty in Allen Shaw’s class led directly to the torture of a living creature outside the classroom. Instead of learning to be kind to animals, students were taught to be cruel. This is not what students should be learning from their teachers.” The Petition in its entirety can be read at www.upc-online.org/fldoepetition
What Can I Do?
Sign this Petition to send a message in support of ending killing and cruelty in the classroom.
You can also write letters to the addresses below.
Urge Florida officials in charge of public schools to implement Florida’s humane education laws and prohibit the harming and killing of animals in Florida classrooms. Implore them to ensure that no situation akin to the animal cruelty and butchery conducted at Hawthorne High School takes place again in a Florida school. Request a written reply to your concerns.
Commissioner of Department of Education
Office of the Commissioner
Turlington Bldg., Suite 1514
325 West Gaines Street
Tallahassee, FL 32399
W. DANIEL BOYD, JR. & BOARD MEMBERS
Superintendent of Schools
Alachua County Public Schools
620 E. University Avenue
Gainesville, FL 32601
Hawthorne Middle/High School Principal
Hawthorne High School
21403 SE 69th Avenue
Hawthorne, FL 32640
- Commissioner of Department of Education
Eric J. Smith
- Superintendent of Schools
W. Daniel Boyd, Jr.
- Hawthorne Middle/High School Principal
- Alachua County Public Schools
I am writing in support of the petition filed by HERO and UPC on March 9, 2011. I strongly urge you to implement Florida’s humane education laws and prohibit the harming and killing of animals in Florida classrooms.
On April 15, 2009, two students at Hawthorne High School, in Alachua County, bashed a chicken to the ground and posted the episode on YouTube (to watch the video, go to http://www.upc-online.org/hawthorne/). Inside the school, students tortured chickens to death in an orgy of cruelty while teacher Allen Shaw looked the other way. The abuse of chickens at Hawthorne High School is directly against Florida’s progressive education law which is intended to safeguard the humane treatment of animals. At a time when bullying and violence are rampant in Florida Schools, these Florida killing classes, which promote and foster an attitude of cruelty and disrespect, are a direct and dangerous contradiction to the work of all humane education.
Please do all you can to enforce a humane education that is consistent with Florida’s progressive educational system and make sure that no situation akin to the animal cruelty and butchery conducted at Hawthorne High School takes place again in a Florida school.
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