WPMT — As the saying goes, food is fuel for the brain.
And Kyle Byler, an 8th grade social studies teacher at Hand Middle School in Lancaster, hoped to bring his students some extra fuel during the Pennsylvania System of School Assessment testing, better known as the PSSAs.
“This teacher took it upon himself to make sure these kids were fed so they didn’t have to worry about being hungry while trying to take a test,” said Crystle Martinez, parent of an 8th grader at Hand Middle School.
Students who were in Mr. Byler’s classroom at the time of the incident say their teacher was quietly grilling pancakes in the corner when the assistant principal walked in.
“The only distraction was when the principal entered the classroom and just looked at him a certain way. That was when everyone turned around. And then he was trying to get us back to work and ignore him while he was talking to her,” said Perla Rodriguez, a student in Mr. Byler’s class.
Byler told Lancaster Online that within 24 hours, he was suspended pending termination at Tuesday night’s school board meeting.
But the school board says that is not true.
“He was never on the school board agenda to consider firing him and he’s not on our agenda tonight. It’s just not possible for a teacher or anyone to be fired that easily. I want you to understand,” said Dr. Edith Gallagher, president of the School District of Lancaster board.
Gallagher explained the rules around the PSSAs are very strict, and teachers go through special training to proctor them.
She did not mention if Mr. Byler broke any rules by making pancakes. She did however, reiterate that the school gives free breakfast and lunch to students every day.
“What has happened was not right. It was not fair. And we feel as if all this over pancakes is wrong,” said Alizea Rodriguez, another one of Mr. Byler’s students.
Parents tell us Mr. Byler is the kind of teacher you want to teach your child, and he does not deserve the backlash he has received.
“He’s getting terminated or suspended over pancakes, when all he’s doing is being a great teacher for these kids. He’s like a father figure for these kids. He’s the papa of hand,” said Edna Reyes, a parent of one of Mr. Byler’s students.
Mr. Byler will resume teaching at Hand Middle School on Thursday.
We reached out to the Department of Education to find out if he broke any rules by bringing food in during testing and they did not respond.
The school said in a statement the DOE is looking into the incident.