RANDOLPH COUNTY, N.C. – Students and parents from Southwestern Randolph High School flooded into a county school board meeting Monday night, many to support of their former teacher.
Jarret Elliott faces a charge of sexual battery. He stepped down from his job, but now, he wants it back.
Elliot, a former agriculture teacher and coach, showed up with his lawyer at the meeting, but he was not alone. Reappearing were the "Free Elliott" t-shirts and signs, as many in the community pleaded with school leaders to give Elliot his job back.
All the seats in the larger-than-usual auditorium were taken by his supporters. Some, like student Luke Johnson, got up to address the school board.
“Something in my heart told me that I needed to stand up for what I truly believed. Like I said in the meeting, he's one of my biggest mentors, other than my parents,” he said.
Weeks after his resignation in late April, students say inside the school, the campaign to “Free Elliott” hasn't let up.
“We’re still wearing t-shirts in full support, and we even had a spirit week, like one day you wear camo, and one day you wear Future Farmers of America t-shirts,” said Adam Linebarr.
Tonight, the group the board to allow Elliott to rescind his resignation, something his lawyer said he wanted to do almost immediately.
“It was shortly thereafter he decided he made a mistake – and tried to rescind it,” said Jonathan Megerian.
Others say they just want Elliott's name cleared.
“I would just like to see him found innocent, and then for him to be able to go to ball games and be out in the community without this hanging over his head and everybody looking at him like he's a monster,” said parent Rhonda Bingham.
Elliott's lawyer says his client plans to plead not guilty in court next month. It's unclear if or when the school system will make a decision pertaining to Elliott's request.