SELMA, Ala. — An Alabama teacher was suspended without pay after being accused of having sixth-grade students re-enact the deadly police shooting in Ferguson, Missouri, and the Trayvon Martin killing in Florida.
The Selma Times-Journal quoted Dallas County School Superintendent Don Willingham as saying the social studies teacher used poor judgment during a lesson on current events.
School officials haven’t identified the teacher, who teaches at Brantley Elementary School.
Administrators were alerted to the Ferguson re-enactment this week after the mother of a student in the class posted a complaint on Facebook. The Missouri city has been wracked by protests since a police officer fatally shot an unarmed black teenager, Michael Brown.
Willingham said his investigation showed the teacher told students to research and re-enact a current event of their choosing. The students picked the killings of Brown and Trayvon Martin, fatally shot by a neighborhood watch volunteer in 2012, he said.
Students used paper guns and bullets, and students portraying victims fell on pillows, he said.
Willingham said the teacher “made a mistake” in judgment by having students re-enact the shootings.
“There are consequences that we have for it, but that does not change our opinion of her as a teacher,” he said.
It’s not clear exactly how the shootings were re-enacted since the exact circumstances of each death are in question. Willingham said students told him they were giggling and laughing during the reenactment.
Willingham declined to reveal the length of the suspension, but he said the school anticipates the teacher returning to the classroom.
“We are looking forward to her return,” Willingham said. “We’re excited about the rest of the school year.”