Long Island News
Beloved Wantagh janitor fired after outburst
WANTAGH, N.Y. (WABC) -- A community is rallying behind an autistic janitor who was fired on Long Island.
Hundreds poured into a school board meeting demanding he be rehired.
The janitor was let go over an outburst.
He was apparently the subject of ongoing bullying and students say he simply lost it.
Mel Turner lost his job and with that he lost his connection with the community because he would not be allowed to attend any school related events, like the big homecoming game.
But, he didn't lose the love and support of the Wantagh community.
Parents say 45-year-old Mel Turner remembers everyone's birthday, he just needs to hear it one time.
His autism gave him that talent, it's also meant he's been bullied his whole life.
In July, A group of kids cursed and teased him.
When he walked home that day, he saw a different group of kids and allegedly threatened to blow up the school.
Those kids recorded his outburst and turned the recording over to school officials who suspended and then fired him.
Hundreds crowded Thursday's school board meeting to stick up for Turner.
"He had a meltdown. He said horrific things. He said he's sorry. He just wants a second chance," said Patrick Ryder, Turner's friend and neighbor.
Mel is thankful for the love and support his neighbors gave him.
He really just wants his job back.
"I didn't mean what I said. I feel bad," Turner said, "I promise I will never say it again, and I need a second chance at my job."
The school district explained their hands were tied because there are clear rules about making threats and the safety of students.
Late Thursday night, the school board lifted the restriction on attending school events and said they would reconsider allowing Mel Turner to return to his job.
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