SCOTTSDALE, AZ - Students at Cactus Shadows High School are behind a social media movement to show support for the school's drama teacher who's now on paid administrative leave.
On Friday, several students plan to have a peaceful demonstration on campus wearing shirts reading "Free Cupo" and homemade bow ties in tribute to Andrew Cupo.
The superintendent of Cave Creek Unified School District, Dr. Debbi Burdick, says nine parents filed a report with the Scottsdale Police Department after learning their kids were assigned to read The Goat, a play by Edward Albee.
The Tony Award winning play includes risqué content about a man who falls in love with a goat, and also includes swear words.
The students say everyone was sent home with a parental consent form warning of mature content in the curriculum and that an alternate assignment was offered.
Present and former students have taken to social media to support the drama teacher starting a Twitter trend #freecupo.
Student Kyle Kuo says they want the principal, school board and parents to know the students are mature enough to handle the content of The Goat and the focus was not the story, but the lesson that can be learned in a drama class of how to express the emotions exhibited by the characters on stage.
Kuo thinks the school board should be doing more to get Cupo back in the classroom.
"With all the budget cuts, we need to keep all the good teachers we have and to lose such an asset, someone who's running the drama department and putting on all of these awesome plays that the students love, to lose that is going to be absolutely detrimental."
Burdick says because a police report was filed, it is school policy to put the teacher on paid leave until the case is closed, at which time the school will conduct its own investigation to determine if any further action needs to be taken.
Burdick says the only real mistake she sees at this time is that Cupo should've alerted the school's principal to the graphic nature of the play before assigning it.