MODESTO — A growing number of students, parents and teachers in Modesto are now signing a petition to get a Modesto City Schools employee his job back.
Richard Meeker was a Downey High School campus supervisor who was caught on camera fighting with a teen, but Meeker says the video only tells a portion of what really happened.
“Probably shouldn’t have antagonized him, maybe,” Meeker said of the Jan. 28 incident. “But I was doing what I could to get him away from the kids and everybody else.”
Meeker says he was defending himself.
“They were throwing gang calls out, which is against school rules, I asked them calmly, ‘Hey, please don’t do that,'” he said.
He says what isn’t shown in the video is the teen punching him in the face.
“It doesn’t show me being attacked because it happened so fast,” Meeker told FOX40. “I’ve never had a student swing on me before like that.”
Meeker says he was the only adult around about 150 students.
He says he had been a substitute campus supervisor for four years and had recently been hired on full time by Modesto City Schools, but a week after the altercation he says administrators fired him.
Students and teachers on and off camera tell FOX40 that Meeker was known as a positive force.
“We feel a lot safer with him here,” Allyssa Guerro, who started a petition to help Meeker, told FOX40.
Students say they hope the petition helps Meeker get his job back.
“I have never seen my father more happy to go to work every day than I did seeing him work at Downey,” Meeker’s daughter Beth said.
A spokeswoman with the school district tells FOX40 educators cannot comment on confidential personnel matters.
“He has never been like that,” student Baylee Reynolds said. he’s never shown aggression, he’s been the nicest person I’ve ever met.”
Meeker says he’s heartbroken to be out of the job he loved dearly, but is encouraged by the support.
“I thought of them as my own kids anyways,” he said. “So I could feel the love as soon as I saw it.”