Hall High School students rallied outside West Hartford Town Hall Tuesday to protest the school's decision not to rehire a popular teacher and coach.
Teens held signs before a Board of Education meeting to show their support for Nick Colagiovanni.
"I just want him to know we all have his back, and we don't know why this is happening," said Hall High School junior Max Aronow.
Students say staff members told them that Colagiovanni, who coaches three sports at the school and teaches physical education, would not be rehired next year, with no reason given.
But Colagiovanni said he believes his contract was not renewed was that he was twenty minutes late to proctor the PSAT at the school.
"In October, I was late to proctor PSATs at my school," he told NBC Connecticut in a text message. "It was a mistake on my part and I didn't think I needed to be in the building until 9 a.m. I was late for my assignment that day and didn't fulfill my professional responsibilities. West Hartford is one of the most prestigious districts in all of Connecticut and they want the best out of their staff every day."
On Tuesday, students and parents filled the Board of Education meeting and spoke on his behalf.
"I just don't think that Hall can afford to lose this person from our school," said junior Neil Kelley.
Kelley started a petition, which more than 1,200 students – nearly 90 percent of the school – signed in a single day.
He also got students to wear black on Colagiovanni's birthday.
Parents echoed their students' concerns.
"I am concerned that the administration has not adequately considered the positives that Mr. C. contributes to the school," said parent Jeanette Becker as she addressed the board.
As per policy, BOE members do not respond directly to comments, but the chair did say the schools have a non-tenure review process that he fully trusts.
"It takes a great cause to bring together a group of teenagers in this way," said school senior Reid Silverhart, to the board. "Shouldn't that make you realize just how important Mr. C. is to Hall High School?"
Colagiovanni said he's grateful and overwhelmed by the support community members have shown.
"These kids and Hall High School mean the world to me. I'm so thankful to be a part of their lives," he said.
Students and parents hope their actions and words can keep Colagiovanni at the school for years to come.
"We just want closure for why this is happening, and if there is no reason, then we want him back," said Kelley.
The superintendent told NBC Connecticut it is not policy to comment on personnel.