MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A Twin Cities teacher is on paid administrative leave after leaving a message in which she could be heard saying she might strangle a student.
The message was left on the voice mail of the mother of a hearing-impaired first grader at Fernbrook Elementary in Maple Grove, and was allegedly the result of a “pocket dial.”
In the message, special education teacher Mimi Klane can also be heard wondering why some students are attending public schools. The message may have been left by accident, but it has left a Twin Cities family badly shaken.
Bree Pogodzinski’s daughter, Jasmine, is a very active 6 year old with a severe hearing impairment. She always enjoyed school until Klane left the pocket dial message on her mother’s phone.
“I thought it would get better, but it hasn’t,” Bree said. “To be so angry. She is 6 years old.”
The school had insisted Jasmine wear an FM receiver that amplifies sound. Every morning her teacher would attach the small receiver to the back of Jasmine’s cochlear implants.
Two days in a row, once in recess and the other in gym, the receiver fell off. When it broke, Klane called Bree saying her daughter had done it on purpose.
“I was saying I don’t think Jasmine would purposely do that. She takes very good care of her cochlear implants,” Bree said.
Right after that conversation, Bree discovered Klane had also pocket dialed her earlier.
In the March 11 message, Klane can be heard saying: “I had to be here because otherwise I might strangle a student….These children should not be in school. This is public school, for God’s sake.”
As soon as Bree reported the incident, the teacher was put on paid administrative leave. Bree kept Jasmine out of school for more than a month until Fernbrook agreed that Jasmine would not have to wear the FM receiver and that Jasmine would never be alone with any teacher.
“I was shocked. I just wanted to hold my daughter and never let her out of my sight,” Pogodzinski said, adding: “I have lost faith and trust and security in her going to school.”
Bree turned down Fernbrook’s offer to meet with the teacher and hasn’t heard from her, but we did.
Through her union, Klane said: “I am so deeply sorry for the pain I have caused this mother as a result of an inadvertent ‘pocket call.’ I apologize for what I said – the feelings I expressed reflect a brief moment in time of heightened emotion on my part.”
The teacher works for District 2-87. That’s a special district which provides special ed teachers to schools.
The district’s attorney said it’s unclear how long Jasmine’s teacher will stay on paid leave. The district says Klane has no prior complaints against her in her 15 years of service.