A Colorado teacher is on paid leave after screenshots surfaced of her viral Twitter post misidentifying a student as being involved in the recent incident between Covington Catholic High School students and a Native American elder, and referring to the student as being part of the "Hitler Youth."
What did the teacher say?
Michelle Grissom, a seventh-grade social studies teacher at Mountain Ridge Middle School in Highlands Ranch, Colorado, reportedly called out a Kentucky student and claimed he was part of the confrontation on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C., according to KUSA-TV. Videos of the incident, which showed the students from Covington Catholic High School in Park Hills, Kentucky, interacting with a Native American activist, led to a national firestorm.
The tweet, obtained by KUSA, stated: "His name is Jay Jackson. His Twitter account is closed to non-followers so we won't interfere with this training in the #HitlerYouth."
The student's father, John Jackson, contacted Grissom on Twitter and asked her to remove the post. He said his son was traveling for a basketball game while the incident was taking place, the newspaper reported.
KUSA reported that the teacher wrote back to the student's father, saying, "Listen, I'm happy to retract his name if it's not him. Though, according to his school's schedule, he didn't play a game today unless he's playing for another team. His name is all over Twitter, so you'll want to convince more than just me."
In a series of tweets directed at the school, John Jackson called the teacher's actions "totally abhorrent" and "inexcusable" and demanded that Grissom face "consequences":
On Wednesday, Grissom resigned from her position on the local union's executive board, Kallie Leyba, president of Douglas County Federation, the Highlands Ranch Herald reported. Leyba also said the union's personnel policy prevents her from making further comments.
KUSA said Grissom was not available for comment. However, Grissom reportedly apologized to the family for calling the student "racist and disrespectful."
Dozens of Douglas County parents have criticized Grissom on Twitter and publicly demanded that she be fired or sued.
In an email to parents, Mountain Ridge Principal Shannon Clarke wrote:
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. If you have questions or concerns specific to your student, please contact me.
In a follow-up email Wednesday, Clarke said Grissom is currently on leave. The email also said a substitute teacher was assigned to the class to help ensure a smooth transition.
What is the background?
The incident unfolded last weekend when social media users began posting video clips of Covington Catholic High School students as they cheered and yelled on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. Nick Sandmann was the actual Covington student shown standing face-to-face with Native American elder Nathan Phillips as he sang and played a drum. Additional video footage showed another group, the Black Hebrew Israelites, taunting the students.
Mainstream news outlets and social media users across the country launched a narrative that the students were being disrespectful. However, subsequent video clips surfaced that debunked that narrative.