Brantley Elementary School in Dallas County (Source: WSFA 12 News)
SELMA, AL (WSFA) -
The internal investigation is complete of a sixth grade Dallas County teacher who was placed on paid administrative leave after students in her 6th grade class were instructed to re-enact the August 9th shooting death of Michael Brown in class. Brown, a black 18-year-old, was fatally shot by a white Ferguson, Missouri police officer. The unarmed man's death has sparked protests and riots in the St. Louis suburb and around the country.
Dallas County School System Superintendent Don Willingham says the unnamed Brantley Elementary School teacher is now suspended without pay. He would not say how long the suspension would last, but would say she will be returning to the classroom at some point in the future.
Willingham discussed his decision with the principal and the teacher in a meeting Thursday afternoon.
The re-enactment sparked outrage after a parent of one of the students complained about the class assignment on social media. The assignment started out as an innocent current events lesson, discussing the recent incident in Missouri that has garnered heavy media attention. But, Jessica Baughn, the student's mother, says the assignment just went too far.
"This is not nowhere near right," Baughn explained. "It was uncalled for."
Baughn explained the assignment in which her son took part. "She [the teacher] had them get on the internet and look up everything about [the Ferguson shooting]," Baughn says. "They proceeded to re-enact the shooting in class."
Baughn says the students used paper guns and paper bullets. "They actually shot them out of this made gun," she says. "The child falls on the ground like he's dead."
Baughn claims a white child played the role of Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson and a black student pretended to be Michael Brown. "I understand talking about current history," the mom explained, "but not re-enacting it I don't... What are we teaching our children?"
The teacher's name has not been released by the school system, but Superintendent Willingham said as soon as he was made aware of the situation, he called a meeting with the teacher and school principal. Willingham says he also talked with Baughn about the incident.
The superintendent said the teacher was placed on leave to avoid any kind of awkwardness until the investigation is finished.
Baughn says administrators are mad at her because she took her concerns to social media before talking with them, "But as a parent I think other parents need to know," she replied. "That's what's wrong with society right now, parents are not aware of what's going on in schools. They're not aware of what their children are being exposed to, and me as a parent, I want to know," she added.
The superintendent says he wants all parents to know that if they have a problem in the classroom, they should come to him first.