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Students walk out of class at West High School in Salt Lake City on Nov. 19, 2019, to protest their principal being put on administrative leave. (Photo: Derek Petersen)
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West High Students Stage Walkout After Principal Placed On Leave

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Students at West High School planned protest after their principal was put on administrative leave.

Principal Ford White was placed on leave following an incident Nov. 14, and students walked out of class on Tuesday morning to express their support for the school’s leader.

Hundreds of high schooler left the school Tuesday morning holding signs that said “Free Ford” and chanting “We want Ford!”

An Instagram post from West High Spam, which is described as “strictly for studentz” (sic), posted the rallying call for students to walk out at 9:40 a.m.

“Ford came across students who were drunk near the school,” according to the post. “As far as we know, he helped them get home safely, instead of doing what the district thinks was right (call the cops).”

In an email obtained by Deseret News, a West High School teacher wrote about the situation to district officials.

“I witnessed today a situation where three students that were on the south lawn during third period … were intoxicated,” according to the letter. “One student was trying to lift the other student off the ground to sit her on the bench while the third student was lying on the ground. When I saw this, I asked Ford White if he knew what was happening. He then stated that he spoke with them already and they seemed fine. But watching what I had just witnessed I did not believe that they were OK. When I approached the two students that made it to the bench, I smelled a strong odor of alcohol.”

The students reportedly admitted they had been drinking.

According to the email, Ford told one of the students to get her car so she could take the other students home. The teacher expressed concern since all the students had admitted to drinking. The faculty discussed the matter, and eventually White drove the teens home in the student’s vehicle.

According to, the teacher said police should have been called.

“We can’t comment right now,” said Yandary Chatwin with the Salt Lake City School District. “There is an investigation that is pending right now internally, but the only thing I can confirm right now is Mr. Ford White … has been placed on administrative leave. Mr. Ron Literral is interim principal.”

School officials said the students who walked out of class will face the regular consequences of being absent. The teacher who wrote the email declined to comment.

KSL TV’s Felicia Martinez contributed to this report.

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