Student involved in verbal altercation with teacher

Boy suspended because of alleged aggressive behavior

Josh Iversen and Patrick Rettig

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An alleged verbal altercation between a student and teacher last month resulted in a student being suspended for what he believes to be an offense he did not commit.

But the teachers who heard it tell a drastically different story.

The incident took place right after school on Nov. 9.

The senior boy said he walked into the teacher’s classroom to talk to her about an issue that had been discussed in one of her classes.

The boy, along with others, had dressed up for Halloween in white and patterned sheets that were pointed at the top, leading many to believe that they were dressed as members of the infamous Ku Klux Klan.

Many students saw footage of the costumes after they circulated on Snapchat.

But the boy said he had dressed up as Charlie Brown in a statement he released on social media. The character in the beloved “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown” TV special dresses up for Halloween as a ghost with multiple holes in his sheet.

The student adamantly denied dressing like a member of the KKK on Halloween during an interview with The Californian.

“We dressed up like Charlie Brown characters,” the boy said. “No one had a white sheet on.”

The Californian is not  naming the boy or the teacher involved in the incident because this is a disciplinary matter.

On Nov. 9, students in one of the teacher’s classes were discussing the presidential election when some students voiced their concerns about the Halloween costumes they had seen on Snapchat.

The teacher said many students expressed feeling unsafe that a fellow student had dressed as a member of the KKK. This was the first time the teacher said she heard about this, so she allowed her students to discuss it.

The boy’s girlfriend was in the class and told him about the discussion, prompting him to go to the teacher’s classroom after school.

“His main issue was that I should have told my students to read his statement that he had posted on social media explaining that he had been dressed as Charlie Brown,” the teacher said.

“He told me it was my responsibility to tell my students the truth. I simply told him that my classroom is a safe place for my students to share their thoughts and voice, and that I don’t have the capacity to clarify his story for him.”

The teacher said the student remained accusatory and aggressive.

At this point the volume of the conversation escalated to the point where two teachers in the vicinity of the classroom  said they were able to hear the incident.

“The student burst into the teacher’s room,” said another teacher who wished to remain anonymous. “It was quiet for a few minutes and then an uproar of yelling.”

Another teacher claimed to hear the incident from behind closed doors.

After approximately 10 minutes, the conversation between the teacher and the boy had only continued to escalate, said the teacher involved in the incident.

At this point, the teacher said she stepped outside to call administrators.

“The student was very confrontational, so after about 10 minutes I stepped out to call Mrs. Cranford,” the teacher said. “I didn’t want the student to be able to make anything up and accuse me of yelling at him or hitting him or anything.”

Assistant principals Crystal Lopez and Allison Mulliken arrived shortly after, accompanied by campus police officer Jeff Kim.

Administrators were also alledgedly berated by the boy.

“When admin came in, they continued to engage in the conversation and reminded the student that his own actions [on Halloween] led to these consequences,” the teacher said. “They eventually asked him to leave with Officer Kim, and he did. The whole incident lasted about a half hour.”

The boy said he left the classroom unassisted.

He also said that no profanity was used throughout the entire incident.

“I was not aggressive or threatening,” the boy said. “I was just trying to have a conversation.”

But another teacher who heard the altercation from outside the classroom disagreed.

When asked if the boy was confrontational or used profanity, the teacher said, “All of the above, both profanity and aggressive language. He made no threats or slurs, though.”

The teacher involved in the incident said she would have been more than willing to have a conversation with the boy, but his aggressive tone made it difficult.

“It’s unfortunate, I wish he had approached the situation differently,” she said. “It’s always important to be open to conversation, but you have to do so with respect.”

The boy claimed to have done exactly that.

“I wasn’t pissed off,” he said. “I just wanted to present the facts of the situation.”

“It was very ironic to me,” the teacher said. “He heard something and made accusations toward me without knowing anything about my class or what had happened.”

The boy said he received a one day suspension a couple of days after the incident.

“[Administrators] told me, ‘Yeah, you were aggressive and threatening to the teacher,’” he said.

The boy insisted his innocence of acting aggressively and claimed that school administrators “haven’t given me any evidential reason for an offense.”

Lopez declined to comment on the matter.

“His experience of what happened was his experience,” said the teacher involved in the incident. “I think the beautiful thing about it is that other people saw the same thing I did.”