St. Paul Public Schools is back in the news after an altercation between a teacher and two students sends the teacher to the hospital, and another teacher has been placed on paid administrative leave after being accused by Black Lives Matter-St. Paul of posting racially charged statements on Facebook.
(Video of Como Park High School teacher attacked by students posted by Lai Moua)
A Como Park High School teacher has been hospitalized after being attacked by students on Wednesday, March 8, 2016. The Star Tribune has reported that teacher Mark Rawlings was assaulted by two male students after he asked one or both of the students to leave his classroom. Police were called, but the altercation had ended before they arrived. Rawlings was taken to Regions Hospital and the two alleged attackers were released from school for the day.
SPPS released Superintendent Valarie Silva’s statement about the attack: “Violent behavior is completely unacceptable and the news of this situation troubles me greatly,” and Como Park High School Principal, Theresa Neal said “There are severe consequences for students who behave this way and we will follow our strict discipline procedures as outlined in the Student Rights and Responsibilities Handbook.”
A Fox 9 report of the incident alleges that students witnessing the attack claimed the students were “defending themselves” from a teacher using excessive force. However, the St. Paul police have reported that the students are not in custody, but most likely will be charged with assault. According to the SPPS Handbook referenced by Principal Neal, the attack would be categorized as a “Criminal Act against a staff member” – a “Level 4” violation.
This is not the first time a SPPS teacher has been attacked by students this school year. In December, Central Senior High School teacher, John Ekblad sustained injuries from an attack by students. Ekblad has since filed a lawsuit against SPPS, which names Superintendent Valarie Silva as one of the Defendants.
A related Como Park High School comes as a follow up to a report from Monday, March 7, 2016, “Black Lives Matter St. Paul Demands Firing of Como Park Senior High School Teacher.” BLM-SP called for the termination of Como Park Senior High Special Education teacher, Theodore Olson’s employment after Olson posted what BLM-SP, and the group’s leader, House District 65A candidate Rashad Turner, believed were racially disparaging remarks on Facebook. BLM-SP threatened to “shut down” Como Park Senior High with a protest if their demands weren’t met by SPPS leadership. After meeting with SPPS Superintendent Valarie Silva on Monday (March 7, 2016), the group agreed to withdraw their threat of protest. Shortly after that meeting, SPPS announced that the teacher in question, Theodore Olson, had been placed on paid administrative leave, with SPPS spokeswoman, Toya Stewart Downey, saying the district is unable to state the reason for the paid leave due to privacy laws.
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Updated 1:15pm March 10, 2016