TACOMA, Wash. - Mount Tahoma High School students are protesting for a teacher who's at the center of controversial video.
For a live report on KIRO 7 at 5, Deborah Horne talks to students who walked out of class on Monday. They say he should not be let go. Watch on-air or online here.
KIRO 7 News obtained cellphone video on Friday that appeared to show a teacher at the high school in Tacoma threatening and taunting a 16-year-old student in the school’s hallway.
The teacher identified as Michael Anderson, is on leave while the Tacoma Public School District and Tacoma police investigate the incident.
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The video, taken by a student at Mount Tahoma High about 9 a.m. on Oct. 13, shows Anderson angrily confronting a student, blocking him as he walked down the hall and jabbing a finger into his chest.
“This kid right here, you’re lucky that I got a job because I will put you down right here, six feet under,” Anderson is heard to say. The student, who asked that we identify him only as Tysen, responds, “No you won’t,” to which Anderson replies, “I would, I really would.”
In an interview at his attorney’s office on Friday, Tysen claimed he did nothing to provoke Anderson.
“I looked at Mr. Anderson, the teacher, and we made eye contact and that’s when he said, 'What are you looking at? Do you have a problem?'” Tysen said.
Tysen said Anderson followed him, calling him out of a classroom. At one point Tysen, who says he is mixed race, white and Asian, claims Anderson called him white boy, although that wasn't caught on camera. On the video, he appeared to taunt him about his family.
“You probably have a bad background and your family doesn’t love you,” Anderson is heard saying on the recording. “I think that’s you,” Tysen says in response. “Hell, don’t talk smack,” Anderson said leaning in close to the student’s face. “Don’t talk smack in my hallway, in any hallway.” During the confrontation Tysen repeatedly told Anderson to “shut up.”
A second teacher, also caught on camera, appears to back up Anderson as he grows more agitated.
“You need to take a break,” the unidentified teacher said. “You need to be gone. Because of all the other things you said, because I heard you insulting Mr. (unintelligible) as you walked in.” Tysen denied insulting a teacher and claimed that teacher backed up his claim.
In the interview, Tysen admitted he became angry, repeatedly telling Anderson that he wasn't afraid of him.
At one point Anderson left, then came back but was urged to leave again by another individual, who appears to be an older student who put a hand on his back and
walked him away.
Tysen claimed he had never had a run-in with Anderson before that day. His mother tells KIRO 7 what she saw on the video was her son being bullied by a teacher.
“It looked like he was provoking him and wanted a rise out of Tysen,” said Theresa Jasan-Menendez. “I just don’t understand it.”
Tacoma Public Schools spokesman Dan Voelpel said Anderson was placed on paid administrative leave the day of the confrontation while the district conducts an internal investigation. The district also reported the incident to Tacoma police. Spokeswoman Officer Loretta Cool confirmed the investigation into possible harassment.
Tysen's attorney, Lawand Anderson, said police and the district haven’t contacted her
or Tysen’s family and aren't moving fast enough. She's seeking protection order from the court because he fears retaliation from Anderson.
“He is extremely worried, he is scared. I would go so far to say that Tysen is beyond normal scared, he is petrified.”
KIRO 7 was unable to find contact information for Anderson to ask him about the allegations. Rich Wood with the Washington Education Association, the union representing teachers, said his office had not been contacted about the incident.
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