SEASIDE, Calif. — A California teacher who fired a gun into the ceiling during a lesson, injuring a student, will resign after the academic year, the Monterey Peninsula Unified School District said Thursday.
“Dennis Alexander submitted his resignation on March 29 effective at the end of this school year. He currently remains on administrative leave while we continue our internal disciplinary process,” district spokeswoman Marci McFadden said.
Alexander also resigned from his reserve position with the Sand City Police Department on March 19, Chief Brian Ferrante said.
“It has come to light that Mr. Alexander has brought his department-issued weapon into the class on previous occasions and allowed students to handle the weapon as a teaching tool,” the chief said in a statement.
Ferrante acknowledged that this type of incident can strain a relationship between police and the community, and said his department will examine its policies to “ensure ongoing professionalism and accountability.” As part of that initiative, the department will implement a body camera program in the coming months, he said.
Though Alexander is stepping down as a reserve police officer and as a teacher at Seaside High School, about 70 miles south of San Jose, Alexander will keep his position as mayor pro tempore for the city of Seaside.
The March 13 accidental discharge injured a 17-year-old student, whose wounds appeared superficial, said Seaside police Chief Abdul Pridgen at the time. The student was struck by either a bullet fragment or debris that fell from the ceiling, he said.
The student’s father, Fermin Gonzales, said he understood that it was an accident but said, “Somebody could have died.”
Previously, Gonzales had been in favor of President Donald Trump’s proposal to arm teachers, but seeing his child injured cast new light on the issue.
“After today, I get why people say there should be no guns in schools,” he said. “If there’s an accident, people could die. If it’s just one, that’s more than enough.”
Guns in schools are illegal in California, but there is an exception for peace officers or those granted specific permission.
The shooting came a day before students and teachers across the country participated in school walkouts to honor the 17 people killed at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida and to call for stricter gun control laws.