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Hillsboro school officials investigating alleged threats at assembly.

Students at Century High School have shown an outpouring of support for a teacher at the school who was placed on administrative leave last Friday.

A small contingent of students and former students gathered outside the front of the high school in Hillsboro during first period Monday morning to show support for the teacher, who was placed on leave March 6 after two students complained that the teacher verbally had threatened them. The incident happened during an assembly in the school’s gymnasium.

About 35 students organized the protest to declare their support for the teacher.

Cylvan Higgs, a senior at the school who helped organize the gathering, said she wanted to show support for the teacher, who has helped her and who, she says, genuinely cares about his students.

“As soon as I found out, I wanted to show that the students care,” Higgs said. She also started a Facebook group Saturday evening in support of the teacher.

As of Monday afternoon, the group has 643 members — current and former students — and is filled with stories of how the teacher went out of his way to help students.

The teacher’s classroom "was the most inclusive environment in all of Century High School. He ensured that every single student was understanding the concepts, and he would go leaps and bounds out of his way to help a struggling student,” one student posted. “Everyone who knows [him] knows that he is sarcastic, silly, and that he … uses hyperbole to make his points. [He] is one of the best teachers that I've ever had the privilege to learn from.”

Higgs said she believes the two students who alleged they were verbally threatened — neither of whom have taken a class from the teacher — misinterpreted the teacher’s comments.

The teacher often jokes with his students, Higgs said. “All the kids know that he was joking.”

According to Higgs, Century's principal Ted Zehr escorted the students inside the school about 9:30 a.m. and told them to “go to class or go home.”

“It was a peaceful protest,” Higgs said, and she believes the group’s message of support has been heard by the school administration.

Madison Olson, who graduated from Century in 2010, said the teacher on leave inspired her to learn.

“I was on student senate my senior year and I helped recruit him to speak at graduation. I remember he talked about people who inspire him and how he aims to inspire students.” The teacher was always encouraging students to get involved in school, she said.

“I’ll always remember him as the teacher who volunteered to be duct taped to the wall” as part of a school-wide fundraiser, she said.

The teacher will remain on administrative leave while school administrators conduct an investigation into the incident.

"It appears they (the teacher) used very poor judgment in word choice in response to student misbehavior," said school district spokeswoman Beth Graser, "which is unacceptable regardless of what the intent may have been."

The students who were allegedly threatened were Jeffrey Dicintio and Kieshon Averette. both sophomores at the school.

Dicintio was involved in an incident at the school in late September 2014, when he and his mother, Shawna Dicintio, filed an official complaint against four staff members, claiming Jeffrey was verbally harassed, bullied and called derogatory names.

The complaint sparked a review of the district's equity and sensitivity training for staff and an apology from district administrators for the incident.

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