Douglas County, Education, Featured, Original Report, Sherrie Peif

UPDATE: Teacher on leave after Social Media post misidentifying a student as “Hitler Youth” goes viral

Jan. 25 — UPDATE: Douglas County School District has responded  to a Colorado Open Records request by Complete Colorado for middle school teacher Michelle Grissom who was placed on paid leave pending an investigation into a series of Tweets concerning an encounter between a group of Kentucky High School students and an elderly Native American man in Washington D.C. Saturday.

Grissom remains on leave from the district. She has been employed with the district since Aug. 1, 1999 and is currently teaching middle school social studies. She earns $74, 015.77 per year. According to a report from 9 News, she has stepped down from her position as a Douglas County Federation of Teachers Executive Board member.

Jan 24 — UPDATE: Michelle Grissom has been placed on leave from her duties at Mountain Ridge Middle School. The school’s principal sent out the following message to parents today:

“I am writing to share news regarding one of the social studies teachers at MRMS. Michelle Grissom is currently on leave. Please understand that I am unable to share specific details, as this is a personnel matter. I recognize you may be concerned about the timing of this, as we have just started a new semester. However, I want to reassure you that I am working with our staff to ensure a smooth transition for our students. As you may know, we had a substitute teacher in class today and will continue to do so, as needed. All of us at Mountain Ridge Middle School are dedicated to the success of your children. Thank you for your partnership and understanding.”

Complete Colorado will continue to follow the story as it unfolds.

HIGHLANDS RANCH — Douglas County School District officials are not commenting on Tweets published by a Mountain Ridge Middle School teacher that misidentified a Kentucky student allegedly involved in an encounter with an elderly Native American man in Washington D.C.

“His name is Jay Jackson. His twitter account is closed to non followers so we won’t interfere with his training in the #HitlerYouth,’ Michelle Grissom’s Tweet read.

Grissom was referring to an incident in Washington caught on video Saturday that showed teens allegedly harassing a Native American man, Nathan Phillips, following a pro-life demonstration in Washington. An extended version of the video was later released that showed a much more complicated situation, and led numerous media outlets and social media commenters to make retractions or apologies for rushed criticism of the incident.

Jay’s father, John Jackson, responded that his son was not on the field trip, but instead playing in a varsity basketball game in Kentucky at the time of the incident in Washington and provided proof.

However, the elder Jackson Tweeted later — this time to the DCSD — that Grissom would not remove her post.

“…she finally apologized but has refused to take down her post and my son’s picture,” Jackson said in part in his Tweet. “My son was harassed and bullied as a result of this teacher’s rush to judgement … totally abhorrent behavior and inexcusable actions that need to have consequences.”

Grissom is listed as a seventh-grade social studies teacher on the school’s website. She says on her Linkedin page that she teaches “cultural and global awareness. I educate future generations about the goings on of the world and love every minute of it.”

Paula Hans, DCSD public information officer said because this is a personnel matter, the district would not comment on the issue.

Complete Colorado has filed an open records request asking for information pertaining to Grissom’s employment in the district. She has since blocked her Twitter feed.

Grissom is no stranger to protest. She has been a vocal presence in the district for years.  She was an outspoken opponent of former Superintendent Liz Fagen and frequent contributor to the Facebook page Speak for DCSD, a community that claims to advocate on behalf of DCSD teachers, but often sparks controversy. She is also on the Douglas County Federation’s Elected Executive Board, representing Mountain Ridge Middle School for the Teacher’s Association.

Late Tuesday a Website was created calling on DCSD to fire Grissom, citing other instances of inappropriate Tweets by Grissom.

“Imagine logging into the internet after a long day at your son’s basketball game, states away from any protest or trouble, and you see school teacher Michelle Grissom posting these pictures of your child, insisting he is a racist, Nazi and a member of the Hitler Youth?” The Website reads. “What would you do? How would you feel? Does this type of behavior describe somebody who should be educating future generations of Americans?”

Shannon Clarke, Principal at Mountain Ridge Middle School, sent a message to parents that simply read: “I have been made aware of comments on social media that involve a member of the MRMS community.  We are addressing this situation, as appropriate.”

Complete Colorado will continue to follow the developments.

 

 

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