Two teachers who played key roles in promoting fake news about a recent clash in Washington, D.C. are now getting the attention they deserve.
One of the teachers, a union leader in the Douglas County, Colorado school district, is on leave after she publicly accused the wrong student of participating in the recent viral conflict between Kentucky teens and an elderly Native American activist.
Mountain Ridge Middle School teacher Michelle Grissom injected herself into a national firestorm surrounding a group of teens from Covington Catholic High School in Kentucky who were recorded in a confrontation with Native American activist Nathan Phillips and others.
At the heart of the video, a young man stood silently with a smile as Phillips beat a drum inches from his face while chanting along with a group of adults at the Lincoln Memorial. The teens participated in the recent Right to Life rally in D.C. and were wearing Make America Great Again hats, which prompted allegations of racism and sparked a fury online that was amplified by mainstream media.
Longer, unedited footage later revealed the Covington Catholic teens were verbally attacked by another group at the site, Black Hebrew Israelites, who hurled racist and profane insults. The harassment prompted the teens to shout back with positive school chants, and the back and forth drew Phillips, a liberal activist, into the mix. The full video showed Phillips invaded the teen’s personal space, despite his lies during appearances on cable news that the boy approached him.
The fallout from the fake news included death threats to Covington students, their families, the school and local community, forcing officials to close the school and the Department of Homeland Security to intervene.
result of this teachers rush to judgement ..totally abhorrent behavior and inexcusable actions that need to have consequences…SHE IS TEACHING YOUR STUDENTS!!! (3/3) pic.twitter.com/1hjAMBagtr
— John Jackson (@DrJacksonOB) January 20, 2019
Grissom took to Twitter during the online firestorm to publicly identify the teen targeted by Phillips as Jay Jackson, and claimed the boy is a Nazi. The actual teen, Nick Sandmann, has since publicly defended himself and his classmates and denied any racist intent, KUSA reports.
“His name is Jay Jackson. His twitter account is closed to non followers so we won’t interfere with his training in the #HitlerYouth,” Jackson posted to Twitter in the comments of the viral video.
Grissom also posted pictures of Jackson in his basketball uniform and argued with the teen’s father when he called the teacher out on her mistake.
“I assure you this is not Jay Jackson … he played in a varsity basketball game last night in Park Hills Kentucky and another game today in Middletown Ohio … the person has been identified please remove this post and apologize for accusing someone without evidence,” John Jackson wrote.
“Listen, I’m happy to retract his name if it’s not him. Though, according to his school’s schedule, he didn’t play a game today unless he’s playing for another team. His name is all over twitter, so you’ll want to convince more than just me,” Grissom wrote back.
In another post, Grissom wrote “if it’s not him, he must have a twin bc he’s dead ringer for the guy above.”
John Jackson wasted little time before elevating his complaint to Grissom’s employer.
In a post that tagged the district and Grissom’s middle school, Jackson explained his son was not involved, he provided proof to Grissom, and though she acknowledged she was wrong and apologized she refused to remove his son’s picture.
“My son was harassed and bullied as a result of this teachers rush to judgement,” Johnson wrote, describing Grissom’s online activity as “totally abhorrent behavior and inexcusable actions that need to have consequences.”
“She is teaching your students!” he posted.
DougCo officials announced Wednesday they removed Grissom from her position, though she remains a board member with the local teachers union – the Douglas County Federation. District and union officials refused to discuss her suspension. Grissom didn’t bother to respond to calls and emails from KUSA.
John Jackson told the news site his family’s glad to see the district take action, though he hasn’t heard anything from school officials.
“My intention was never for her to lose her job,” he said. “It was only after multiple attempts to get her to remove the post did I feel it necessary to include her school and school district in the discussion in an attempt to get her to take down her post.”
So I have looked through the history of Michelle Grissom, and this woman obviously is not well.
She wishes rape on people. She wishes murder on people. She hates cops so much that she claims most of them are racist. (1/) pic.twitter.com/37WGlDQFL8
— Antonio (@Antonius_Magnus) January 21, 2019
Grissom’s Twitter page is now deleted.
“We were shocked and disappointed when nobody from the school district reached out to us,” Jackson said
The father told KUSA his son “feared that his future could be negatively impacted by having his name and picture associated with Hitler and the events in D.C.”
“We feel like this is a serious offense and would like at least some form of acknowledgement and apology,” he said.
Grissom also was not the only teacher involved in the online hate campaign against the Covington Catholic students.
The original post that sparked the viral vitriol came from the account @2020fight, which was temporarily suspended and now permanently deleted. The photo for the account was a fake, but the person behind it appears to be a Trump-hating middle school teacher from the San Francisco Bay area, NBC reports.
The highly deceiving post came with context, and pained the Covington teens at MAGA-crazy white supremacists.
Social media accounts and a profile on Teachers Pay Teachers identify @2020fight only as a Bay area teacher named Talia, though online sleuths continue to dig through her digital trail for more information.
Her online interests include promoting her dozens of worksheets and lesson plans, as well as her radical political views.