A Mount Tahoma High teacher is on paid administrative leave as Tacoma Police and the Tacoma School District investigate allegations that he threatened a student during an encounter that was captured on video.
The cell phone footage, posted earlier this month on YouTube, shows history teacher Mike Andersen confronting a 16-year-old student. The teacher has been on paid administrative leave since the incident took place on Oct. 13, said school district spokesman Dan Voelpel.
The video shows Andersen looking at another teacher while pointing at the student. The teacher says, “I’ll tell you what, this kid right here,” then turns to face the student while jabbing his finger in the student’s direction and adds, “you’re lucky that I got a job because I will put you down right there, six feet under.”
The student replies, “No you won’t,” and the teacher says, “I would, I really would.”
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A voice is heard saying, “Do it.” Andersen replies, “No, because you probably have a bad background and your family doesn’t love you and you probably ...”
The student’s response: “I think that’s you.”
Andersen, before starting to walk away, says, “No, you talk smack. Don’t talk smack in my hallway, in any hallway.”
The student then tells Andersen to “Shut up” and the other teacher steps forward and says “What did you say? Let’s get security down here.” (“Only one teacher involved,” Voelpel said of the investigation.)
A few seconds later, a voice is heard saying, “You know what, you’re lucky you ain’t six feet under the ground.”
The student says, “I said I’m not scared of you, what are you going to do? You’re not going to do nothing.”
“I can’t do anything,” a voice is heard saying.
Andersen is then seen walking back into frame toward the student when another person steps in front of him and says “Nah, Mr. Andersen” and then walks away with his hand on the teacher’s back.
Tacoma Police are investigating the incident, said department spokeswoman Loretta Cool. Voelpel said he could not provide a time frame for when the district’s investigation would conclude.
The student was asked to stay away from school for two days while the incident was investigated, Voelpel said. The student was not punished and his time away from school was not a suspension, Voelpel said.
The student returned to school but does not feel comfortable, said Lawand Anderson, the student’s Des Moines-based attorney.
Lawand Anderson said the family did not hear from the school district about the investigation until Friday. Voelpel said the school district “wasn’t aware (the student’s family) had issues” until media outlets started reporting on the incident.
Lawand Anderson said the student and his family want “a thorough criminal investigation into the threat on his life, a protection order so he can feel comfortable in his community and being at school, some reassurance from the school that there will be no retaliation from other teachers that are obviously Mr. Andersen’s friends and for the school to take some sort of accountability in this.”
In an interview with KIRO-TV, the student said he had no previous altercations with Andersen.