System alters teacher’s suspension to without pay

Published 8:52 pm Thursday, August 21, 2014

A sixth grade Brantley teacher has been suspended without pay after a now complete investigation revealed she allowed her class to reenact two controversial shootings that have gained national attention.

Superintendent of Education Don Willingham said he was surprised to learn the social studies lesson on current events he originally thought only consisted of a reenactment of the Ferguson shooting, in which police shot unarmed Michel Brown Aug. 9 in Ferguson, Mo. Willingham said she also coordinated a reenactment of the Florida shooting in which George Zimmerman killed Trayvon Martin.

“I think she made a mistake by going that far in the discussion,” Willingham said. “In that situation, we felt like she used poor judgment. There are consequences that we have for it, but that does not change our opinion of her as a teacher.”

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Willingham said teacher, who he again declined to identify, planned a current events assignment in which students would have to research and reenact the current events a majority of the class favored.

The superintendent learned, through the investigation, that students chose the Brown and Martin incident.

The students used paper guns and bullets to demonstrate the shooting and placed pillows on the ground, so the student playing the role the victims would not get hurt as they fell, Willingham said.

He said the students who were interviewed during the investigation told him they were giggling and laughing during the reenactment.

Willingham declined to announce the length of the suspension, but he said the school is anticipating her return.

“We are looking forward to her return,” Willingham said. “We’re excited about the rest of the school year.”

The investigation into the incident began shortly after a mother of one of the students took to social media to complain about the reenactments.