HIBBING, Minn. (WCCO) – A Minnesota mother says she didn’t believe it until she heard secret recordings of her son’s teacher.
A seventh grader in Hibbing started recording science teacher Dan Gotz months ago. He’s on paid leave while the school district investigates.
WCCO shares a mother’s concern over classroom insults she thinks crossed the line.
For nearly a month, Gotz has been kept out of Hibbing High School as a school district sifts through hours of recordings captured by a 13-year-old.
Like this lesson that was supposed to be about the human body:
“There are some big colored ladies that got some big old booties,” Gotz said to his class. “This is why I wear sunglasses all the time. It doesn’t hurt to look. ”
Melissa Petrangelo Scaia came forward after a mom she didn’t know found her on Facebook.
“Anyone else who got the Facebook message I got, the phone call I got and heard what I received would have done the same thing,” Petrangelo Scaia said.
“He couldn’t essentially fall asleep because he couldn’t watch what his science teacher was doing one more day,” she said about the boy who recorded it.
That mom told her Melissa’s son was one of a handful being picked on by his teacher and there were recordings to prove it.
“Very rarely do you see someone stand up to it and that’s what this child did,” Petrangelo Scaia said.
“She might tell you that, but deep in her soul she cries at night for having a son like you,” Gotz said to a student.
Melissa says her own son’s complaints about Gotz date back months.
“He kept using words that he’s teasing mom and it’s too much, it goes too far, it’s not just regular teasing, he’d say,” Petrangelo Scaia said.
But she had no idea what was really happening.
“I didn’t believe it until I heard it and it was really hard because I didn’t believe my own child,” Petrangelo Scaia said.
In his personnel file, WCCO found no record of any complaints against Gotz in his 20 years with the Hibbing School District where he’s paid $81,000 a year. The last record of a classroom observation dates back 17 years. The superintendent said tenured teachers are only evaluated every once in a while.
Last Friday, students filled the front steps of the high school to show support for teachers, including Gotz. Some said since Gotz’s leave, teachers feel down.
“It’s OK to support him, but you also have to acknowledge these behaviors and actions aren’t right,” Petrangelo Scaia said.
Melissa’s son is on medication for ADHD. Often, Gotz can be heard calling him “special” in front of his class.
“When you go to the big high school you probably expect there’s going to be some bullying going on. You just don’t ever expect it to be a teacher you know – you just don’t,” Petrangelo Scaia said.
Some parents told WCCO they complained about Gotz’s behavior to the principal. Scaia did in a series of emails in March. WCCO has seen them.
WCCO asked why those concerns aren’t included in Gotz’s file. Superintendent Brad Johnson said they have no record of any complaints and can’t comment on the specific allegations due to privacy laws.