A Douglas County, Colorado teacher who misidentified a student involved in the recent dispute between a Native American protestor and Catholic students in Washington, D.C. could soon be out of a job.
Douglas County School District Superintendent Thomas Tucker recommended that the school board terminate Mountain Ridge Middle School teacher Michelle Grissom for misidentifying the student and falsely labeling the boy as a member of “Hitler Youth,” implying the teen is a racist, KMGH reports.
Grissom, who has since resigned her leadership position in the local teachers union, posted to Twitter in response to an edited video that went viral late last month appearing to show students from Kentucky’s Covington Catholic High School taunting Native American agitator Nathan Phillips.
In the video, Phillips chanted and banged a drum inches from the face of 16-year-old Nicholas Sandmann, though Grissom insisted the student’s name was Jay Jackson.
“His name is Jay Jackson. His twitter account is closed to non followers so we won’t interfere with his training in the #HitlerYouth,” Grissom wrote.
Grissom then argued with the teen’s father after he called her out on the claim, and she initially refused to take down her post despite evidence that she fingered the wrong person.
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
“My son was not in DC but playing basketball she demanded proof, proof sent she finally acquiesced and apologized but has refused to take down her post and my sons picture,” John Jackson posted to Twitter, directing his message to school officials. “I hope this is dealt with appropriately and swiftly … my son was harassed and bullied as a result of this teachers rush to judgement … totally abhorrent behavior and inexcusable actions that need to have consequences … SHE IS TEACHING YOUR STUDENTS!!!”
A full video of the D.C. incident has since added important context to the viral clip, showing the Covington students were relentlessly taunted by racist Black Hebrew Israelites who were also at the scene, and Phillips appeared to target Sandmann and invade his personal space. In media interviews, Phillips blatantly lied and said Sandmann approached him.
School officials initially placed Grissom on administrative leave amid a fierce public backlash and calls for her termination.
Tucker made his official recommendation at the board meeting Tuesday.
He told the media his recommendation to terminate Grissom is the first step and she can request a hearing to appeal the decision, but ultimately “the DCSD Board of Education will be the final judge as to whether Ms. Grissom is retained or dismissed,” KWGN reports.
“I understand that many in the community have strong opinions regarding Ms. Grissom and the circumstances giving rise to my recommendation,” Tucker wrote in a prepared statement. “However, to ensure that the process complies with Colorado law, while the dismissal process is ongoing, Douglas County School District will not provide further comment.”
About two dozen parents and concerned citizens held a rally outside Tuesday’s board meeting to demand district leaders follow through with Grissom’s termination. Many also attended to complain about the district’s public comment rules at board meetings, which prevented many from voicing their frustration with Grissom at the board’s previous meeting, according to the news site.
Grissom apologized for her behavior several days after she was suspended for her post and is now pleading for forgiveness, KMGH reports.
“I feel horrible about not having made a public apology sooner,” Grissom wrote in a prepared statement last month. “I have not been able to make statements or comment on the matter, but I need for you to know how repentant I am about what happened.
“As an educator, I care deeply for children and would never want to cause them harm. I made a mistake and I offer my sincere apology to Jay and to your family.”