A group of Stevensville High School students staged a protest on the school grounds on Wednesday afternoon over the firing of a high school guidance counselor, Steven Coop, and have received zeroes for their missed classes.

Superintendent of Schools  Dr. Robert Moore said Coop's contract for the 2017-2018 school year was not renewed, and quoted the state statute pertaining to the issue.

"The board took action last night (Tuesday) under Montana Code annotated 20-4-206, and elected by board action to non-renew a non-tenured teacher and the students are protesting that action," Moore said. "The board is the only body in the public school system in the state of Montana that can take employment action."

KGVO News reached out to three of the students who were staging the protest outside the school on Wednesday afternoon, Savannah, Alex, and Danielle, who all granted KGVO News permission to record their comments.

"We're protesting because our school counselor who has been here for three years was fired for no reason," said junior Savannah. "He's been here for all the students and he's helped us all so much, and we just feel it's very unfair that he got fired."

Sophomore Danielle said Mr. Coop has impacted a number of students.

"I've known him since he came to the school," said Danielle. " He's made an impact on all of us. After the school board meeting when they made his firing official, almost everyone ran out of the building, crying."

Alex, a senior, had a poignant comment in praise of Mr. Coop.

"When Mr. Coop started working here, I was failing most of my classes and was not on the road to graduation, but since he's been here. he's gotten me to a 3.80 GPA and also talked me down from a suicidal thought. He's actually the reason I'm graduating, and might actually be the reason I'm alive."

One of the parents of the protesting teens said that the Stevensville High School principal sent an email to the high school staff ordering them to give unexcused absences and zeroes for the missed classes for all the students who protested.

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