TOPSAIL BEACH - A teacher at Topsail High School was suspended after asking his students to take a poll conducted by the Pew Research Institute to help them identify where they fall on the political spectrum.
William Pearsall, an employee of Pender County Schools since 1996, has never faced any other disciplinary action prior to this incident. However, Pearsall now finds himself suspended with pay, according to district spokesperson Bob Fankboner.
“William Pearsall was suspended with pay from his teaching/coaching position at Topsail High School. Mr. Pearsall is still employed by Pender County Schools. As this is a personnel issue, Pender County Schools cannot comment on the nature or length of the suspension,” Fankboner said.
In response to the suspension, one of Pearsall’s former students started a petition online to have him reinstated. So far, more than 2,000 people have signed it.
The assignment was optional and if students did choose to participate, they were only graded on completion of the assignment — not based on answers. In fact, the answers to the survey were not revealed to Pearsall.
Following the assignment, a parent complaint was received by the schools.
After the parental complaint, Pearsall issued a public apology to the parents and students involved in the assignment for any confusion. After explaining the intended nature of the assignment.
However, the Pender County Board of Education decided to go further. None of the board members responded to a request for comment. As far as the petition goes, Pender County Schools is aware of it and said they welcome the discussion.