DOUGLAS COUNTY, Colo. — The superintendent of the Douglas County School District has made a recommendation to the school board to fire a teacher who is accused of derogatory comments directed toward a Covington Catholic school student following an incident in Washington, D.C. last month.
Mountain Ridge Middle School teacher Michelle Grissom was placed on paid leave following online comments where she called a Covington Catholic school student “Hitler Youth.”
Images of Twitter posts from a now-deleted account attributed to Grissom appeared to be an attempt to publicly identify the high school student from Kentucky seen standing face-to-face with a Native American activist in Washington, D.C. on Jan. 18. The father of the identified student said he was not there, but rather at a basketball game in Kentucky.
Grissom, a civics teacher, has since apologized for the comments and resigned from her role on the teacher’s union board.
In a statement released during a Douglas County School Board meeting Tuesday night, Superintendent Dr. Thomas Tucker made the recommendation to dismiss Grissom:
“I made a recommendation to the Douglas County School District (DCSD) Board of Education that Ms. Grissom be dismissed. The process for dismissing a teacher in Colorado is governed by Colorado law, specifically the Teacher Employment Compensation and Dismissal Act. That process begins with a recommendation being made to the Board. Under Colorado law, Ms. Grissom is entitled to request a hearing on the basis for the dismissal. If she does so, a hearing officer will be selected who, after the hearing, will make a recommendation to the Board. The DCSD Board of Education will be the final judge as to whether Ms. Grissom is retained or dismissed. Therefore, the Board must preserve its impartiality, much like a judge in a civil or criminal matter would. I understand that many in the community have strong opinions regarding Ms. Grissom and the circumstances giving rise to my recommendation. The District respects those opinions. 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.”
Before Tuesday night's board meeting, Douglas County parents and residents held a small rally outside.
"For me, its about speaking freely to elected officials," said Aaron Johnson, a Castle Rock resident.
Two weeks ago, Johnson stood before the board during public comment session to share his thoughts and concerns about district social media policy and the fallout from Grissom's tweets.
When he mentioned her name, the board silenced Johnson's microphone and law enforcement escorted him out of the room.
"I mentioned the teacher's name which broke the protocol of their policy," he said. "I wasn't [there] to complain about the teacher, I was here to address the fallout of the controversy she created and how the district is going to move forward to address that."
People gathered at the rally Tuesday night argued they should be allowed to speak freely to elected officials in a public comment session.
However, people stood before the board Tuesday night and used their time during the public comment session to express support for the board's policy and response to Johnson during the previous meeting.
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