Wahpeton School district plans to move forward in George Floyd teaching incident
"We're going to provide both staff and students with tools that encourage understanding which will build our community in a meaningful way by focusing on these steps
WAHPETON, N.D. (KVRR) — Officials from the Wahpeton School district are releasing more details about a fifth grade teacher who had students reenact the arrest of George Floyd.
“The issue at hand deals with a fifth grade teacher, Mrs. Barb Michaelson. She’s a veteran teacher. She’s like everybody’s grandma,” Wahpeton Public Schools Superintendent Rick Jacobson said.
Michaelson, who had students in her class reenact the arrest of George Floyd, has been placed on administrative leave since last week as officials look further into the situation.
School officials did not take questions during a press conference.
“When people hear reenactment of the George Floyd situation, I’m sure they think about him pinned down, knee on the neck and all this stuff for how many minutes. We want to clarify that that is not the case. Now, did an event happen in the classroom? Yes,” said Jacobson.
According to school investigators, the demonstration was to show how the position could affect student’s breathing.
“We do know that students did have their hands behind their back, they were on the floor and it was being used as a teachable moment of how wrong this is and we don’t want to put anybody in that position, students were then asked to stand up and check their pulse, from there the activity concluded,” Wahpeton Elementary School Principal Jake Dodge said.
Jacobson says the situation could have been handled differently and changes will come.
“We as a district have to figure out what can we do to take on those types of tough questions moving forward because it was one of those things that was caught up in the moment, but it could have been a teachable moment if we had done it in a different manner,” Jacobson said.
“We’re going to provide both staff and students with tools that encourage understanding which will build our community in a meaningful way by focusing on these steps; We’re going to analyze factors that influence but are not limited to hiring practices, professional development, teaching and learning, and behavioral discipline,” Wahpeton High School English Teacher Dr. David Woods said.
Michaelson will remain on administrative leave until the district concludes its investigation.