Students at Mount Tahoma High School rallied Monday in support of a teacher who is being investigated following a confrontation with a student that was caught on video.
Students protested that history teacher Mike Andersen was put on leave and collected 175 names on a petition demanding the school reinstate Andersen. The teacher has been on paid administrative leave since the incident on Oct. 13.
The video posted on YouTube appears to show Andersen confronting a 16-year-old student and saying, “You’re lucky that I got a job because I will put you down right there, six feet under.”
Tacoma police and Tacoma Public Schools are investigating.
A petition titled “Bring Andersen back” posted on thepetitionsite.com had 175 supporters and goal of 500 on Monday afternoon. The petition states, “Andersen was taunted by a student and was egged on enough to the point where he said some harsh remarks. … We want to bring Mr. Andersen back to his job and back to being a wonderful teacher.”
Among the students expressing support for Andersen at the protest was Mount Tahoma junior Micah Henderson, who said the student with whom the teacher was talking provoked the teacher and lied about what led to the comments.
“He said some bad stuff, but at the end of the day, he’s a good teacher,” Henderson said. “Look at how much support he’s got.”
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.”
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.”
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.
Lawand Anderson, attorney for the student, told The News Tribune on Saturday that 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.”
Staff photographer Peter Haley contributed to this report.