• Attorneys for Tacoma teen threatened by teacher: Teacher has history of bullying

    By: Kevin McCarty

    Updated:

    Attorneys for a Tacoma teenager threatened by a teacher at his high school told KIRO 7 they have uncovered a long history of that teacher bullying, using profanity aimed at students and in some cases, using racially charged and inappropriate language. 

    Last October, KIRO 7 aired cell phone video of Mount Tahoma High School teacher Michael Andersen appearing to threaten a 16-year-old student identified only as Tysen.

    “You’re lucky that I got a job, because I will put you down right here, six feet under,” the video shows Andersen saying. “I would, I really would.”

    Tysen's attorney Sumeer Singla said he received information about Andersen’s record through a public disclosure request to Tacoma public schools, revealing complaints dating back the beginning of his teaching career.

    “What we found was very, very concerning. This goes all the way back to when he was a substitute teacher,” Singla said.

    Singla gave KIRO 7 records dating back to 1984, when Andersen “encouraged three students to fight on school grounds. It was requested that Andersen not be allowed to substitute again." 

    He was later hired as a full time staff member.

    In September 2009 Andersen was issued a letter of reprimand after telling a student "I'll knock you out you little punk."

    Andersen was directed in January 2014 not to use profane language in front of students.

    In February 2014, Andersen received a letter of direction after he disclosed a student's failing grade to the entire class. “The student was humiliated and was left crying."

    In February 2016, he received another letter of reprimand for using a profanity directed at a student and for using profanity "to disparage part of a Martin Luther King Junior assembly," calling it “B.S or s**t."

    In March 2017, he got a letter of reprimand after telling a student, "I don't like you because you are half black," and for humiliating a female student, making her cry.

    “All of this happened before our client was bullied by Mr. Andersen,” Singla said.

    District spokesman Dan Voelpel said action has been taken concerning Andersen in the past.

    “We follow Washington state law and our labor agreement, which says that we provide performance coaching and progressive discipline, and that’s what we’ve done,” Voelpel said. 

    But Voelpel could not address Andersen's record: “I can’t speak to these specific cases simply because they’re part of the lawsuit."

    Attorneys for the student have filed a claim against the district and will file a lawsuit if they haven’t received a response in 60 days. The district has until early March.

    Andersen was placed on paid leave in October. That was changed to unpaid leave Nov. 29. Voelpel said the district continues to review the complaint against Andersen.

     


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