A 59-year-old swim coach in the Gilbert School District has been laid off, one year before his retirement. Now, a community is rallying to support him.

GILBERT, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) - For many people, 59-year-old Dave Peters isn't just a German teacher or a State Championship swim coach.

"I know of three students last year that were struggling with depression and suicide and he walked them through that journey the entire way, he's that type of guy," says Kari Vanderpool, a mother to one of his swim students.

Vanderpool says Peters is a mentor who cares, and an educator who always goes the extra mile. "He has personally given up his passing hour, or prep hour so he can take on another class," she says.

As of Friday, it was announced Peters, a 19-year educator  and swim coach in Gilbert, is one of the 152 employees laid off by the district. Peters is one year away from his retirement.

"Why him? Like why would he get fired?" wonders Asher Vanderpool, a sophomore who says he joined the swim team to be coached by Peters. "I think there were, like, five kids who came from other schools just to do swim taught by him."

The Gilbert Public School District says low enrollment is the reason behind the layoffs. Students say they are noticing a trend with the teachers who got the boot.

Vanderpool believes the district is targeting senior teachers with higher salaries. Arizona's School Authority reached out to Gilbert Public Schools to see what percentage of teachers laid off were of senior status, but as of Monday evening, we had not heard back.

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