A Wahpeton Elementary School teacher is on administrative leave following controversy which emerged in response to students allegedly re-enacting the George Floyd arrest and murder.
Wahpeton Public Schools Superintendent Rick Jacobson issued the following statement Friday, May 7:
"Earlier this week it was brought to our attention that an activity in one of our elementary classrooms may have been inappropriate and insensitive considering the current reality of issues our country is currently dealing with," Jacobson stated. "The school district was not aware of the incident until it was brought to our attention earlier this week."
"As a district, we do not support or tolerate any activity that would make students uncomfortable in the learning environment. The situation is currently being investigated," Jacobson continued.
"The teacher involved is on administrative leave until the investigation is complete and all information compiled," Jacobson stated. "Details regarding the investigation will be released once the investigation is complete."
Jacobson elaborated on the incident, Forum News Service (FNS) reported.
"In a phone interview Friday morning, Jacobson said the incident was not part of the teacher's lesson plan, but arose spontaneously when students were talking about former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin's murder conviction in the death of George Floyd," FNS reported.
"The discussion quickly progressed to where at least one student began to physically demonstrate the student's understanding of how Floyd was handcuffed with his hands behind his back, at which point the teacher stopped the discussion, according to Jacobson," FNS continued.
"At that point, the teacher told the kids: 'get off the floor.' But by that time it had already gone on and it happened," Jacobson said.
"Though the activity was not part of the teacher's lesson plan, Jacobson said it could have been a teachable moment had it been handled 'in a more appropriate manner,'" FNS reported.
A press conference is scheduled for 1 p.m. Monday, May 10 at Wahpeton Public Schools' district office. The district consists of four schools, two elementaries, a middle school and a high school.