A dedicated educator loses his passion for teaching as he struggles to survive in this tense urban drama. Trevor Garfield (Samuel L. Jackson) is a science teacher trying to make a difference in a tough Brooklyn high school, but he faces an uphill battle against students more interested in gang battles than education and an administration that won't back him up. When Garfield is nearly killed by one of his students, he takes a 15-month sabbatical from education and moves to California, where he takes a position as a substitute teacher. Garfield is startled to discover that things are even worse on the West Coast; while fellow educators Ellen (Kelly Rowan) and Dave (John Heard) offer whatever help and advice they can, Garfield's superiors are more concerned about fielding lawsuits than the safety of their teaching staff. Soon, Garfield finds his life is in danger when he tries to stand up to two of his pupils, Benny (Lobo Sebastian) and Cesar (Clifton Gonzalez Gonzalez). One Eight Seven (the title comes from the police code for homicide) was written by Scott Yagemann, who spent seven years as a substitute teacher in California.
by Mark Deming synopsis