A school teacher and union leader in Colorado has been put on leave for calling a Covington Catholic student a member of the Hitler Youth, and a resident who criticized the teacher was escorted from a school board meeting following a heated assembly.
Shortly after the Covington Catholic episode on the National Mall went viral, Douglas County teacher Michelle Grissom tweeted about one of the Covington students.
"His name is [redacted]. His twitter account is closed to non followers so we won't interfere with his training in the #HitlerYouth," Michelle Grissom’s tweet read.
While the student does attend Covington Catholic, he was not in attendance with the group that day, according to his father, who tweeted that information back to Grissom.
"I assure you this is not [redacted] … he played in a Varsity basketball game last night in Park Hills Kentucky and another game today in Middletown Ohio," the father tweeted back in reply.
He later tweeted directly to the Douglas County School District, noting that even though he felt he had proven his son was not the person identified, Grissom had left her original tweet standing, with no clarification or correction.
Since then, Grissom's entire Twitter account has been deleted, and she has resigned her position with the teacher's union board, according to KUSA television.
Tuesday, the principal of the middle school where Grissom teaches sent out a notice that she had been placed on leave.
"I am writing to share news regarding one of the social studies teachers at MRMS," the email began. "Michelle Grissom is currently on leave. Please understand that I am unable to share specific details, as this is a personnel matter."
Thursday night, a citizen went to the DCSD school board to complain about the incident during public comment, but violated a policy by using Grissom's name.
"Here we are, a community incensed by a teacher's social media posts. Nobody wants to be here discussing this, but no matter how uncomfortable, we must confront this," he said.
As he continued, he eventually mentioned Grissom by name, which is against the district's policy.
"You are out of order at this time. No one can hear you as you speak because your microphone is no longer [on],""said David Ray, the board president.
A security guard then appears to escort the speaker away.
A man at the DougCo school board meeting tonight was escorted out by an officer after he brought up tweets attributed to a district history teacher – tweets that referenced the Covington Catholic incident in DC and called a student "Hitler Youth." pic.twitter.com/uZPtaLEKSg
— Next with Kyle Clark (@nexton9news) January 25, 2019
Local TV anchor Kyle Clark quickly produced video from another DCSD board meeting in which a speaker also appeared to violate the policy in question, but was allowed to keep speaking.
I pulled up video of the last board meeting. Where this woman waved signs criticizing specific people. She was reminded of the rule but permitted to stay. She then turned and lit into someone in the audience by name (apparently a staff member). She was allowed to finish. pic.twitter.com/ITLej6lXNi
— Kyle Clark (@KyleClark) January 25, 2019
"So it kinda seems like whether the DougCo board gives you a polite warning or a police escort for violating Policy KE depends on who you are or who you are criticizing," he concluded in another Tweet.
The woman seen in Clark's tweets was cautioned by Board President Ray not to use specific names, noting her signs. At that point the woman turned and named someone in the audience, but was allowed to continue speaking then as well.
According to KUSA, the DCSD policy in question reads:
Avoid using statements, photographs, video or audio that reasonably could be viewed as malicious, unprofessional, obscene, threatening or intimidating, disruptive to the efficient operations of schools, violates an employee’s duty of loyalty to DCSD, that disparages DCSD employees, students, communities, customers, partners and affiliates, or that might constitute harassment or bullying. Examples of such conduct might include offensive posts meant to intentionally harm someone’s reputation or posts that could contribute to a hostile work environment.
DCSC Board President Ray provided the Free Beacon with the following statement:
"The Douglas County School District Board of Education values hearing diverse viewpoints from a broad spectrum of citizens throughout our community.
Board Policy BEDH explains the process by which public participation occurs at board meetings. The board president is responsible for directing speakers to confine their remarks to the agenda item for which they have signed up to speak. Further, the policy states that since the board’s responsibility is setting policy for the school district, members of the public should direct their comments to policy matters.
It is District policy not to hear, in public session, personal complaints against any district personnel. Board Policy KE provides a detailed process for members of our community to address their concerns, as constructive criticism motivated by a sincere desire to improve the quality of the educational program or to equip schools to do their tasks more effectively is welcomed by our board.
The DCSD Board of Education is committed to respecting the rights of our community members who bring forward matters of concern and we welcome constructive criticism consistent with our policies.
Everyone in attendance at a DCSD board meeting plays an important role in modeling appropriate behavior and promoting a climate of mutual respect."
Efforts to reach Grissom were unsuccessful.