Hopkins High: Teacher suspended for saying how HE would have carried out Oxford school shooting
Hopkins High School Principal Ken Szczepanski revealed that teachers had been issued a memo outlining how to discuss the Oxford tragedy with students
A Michigan teacher was suspended after allegedly telling his students how he would've carried out the Oxford school shooting. He is also accused of using a slur in class and telling his classes how he would have conducted 9/11 differently.
According to emails obtained by Insider, the incident occurred in December at Hopkins High School, which is located about two-and-a-half hours west of Oxford, Michigan, where gunman Ethan Crumbley, 15, shot and killed four students at the Oxford High School on November 30, 2021. Speaking to WMMT, Hopkins High School Principal Ken Szczepanski revealed that educators had been issued a memo outlining how to discuss the Oxford tragedy with students and that the teacher, identified in the emails as Robert Wiersema, had been suspended after going "off script" and making "insensitive" comments.
Hopkins accused the Wiersema of using a slur in class and joking about how he would have carried out the September 11, 2001 attacks as well as the Oxford shooting. Speaking to Insider, Szczepanski said Wiersema remains on administrative leave.
The report cited one email sent by a parent to the principal, alleging Wiersema told his students that "if he was going to shoot kids he would pull the fire alarm and send everyone to the cafeteria or football field and shoot them in the head at once." The parent bemoaned how their ward did not want to go to school due to "severe anxiety" over school shootings. Another email saw Hopkins School Board member Jessica Johnson reveal how several parents had reached out to her after their children had "expressed concern" over the teacher's comments. Wiersema allegedly told his classes that if he were to commit a school shooting, he would pull the fire alarm. "He also shared that he carries a gun with him and keeps it in his car every day," Johnson wrote. "This is very concerning to me and I was appalled to hear this and I can't imagine how the students feel after hearing this."
Yet another email by a student claimed Wiersema "started joking" about the Oxford shooting, saying if he were present, "he would just take the gun from them and shoot the shooter instead." The student described the comments as "incredibly disrespectful" and not "something a teacher should be saying." Meanwhile, another student recounted in an email how the teacher said he would have carried out the 9/11 terrorist attacks differently, explaining that he would have "done something to the water aqueducts" so people couldn't fight the fires and it "would have killed more people than 9/11."
There were several other emails alleging that Wiersema repeatedly used an ethnic and religious slur in class, prompting one student to ask Szczepanski if they could switch to a different elective class as the teacher's language made them uncomfortable. Another email by Hopkins Public Schools director of technology Scott Getter noted how one of Wiersema's classroom documents included a "Jeopardy-style review" where one prompt that used the slur read in part, "...scraggly bearded weirdo who wants to change the way things are by, and usually does so by hijacking, bombing, sniping, and other forms of mayhem." The answer appeared to be "terrorist," per the email.
Responding to the backlash, Wiersema said he's "one of the last people to possibly be a threat to students." The teacher emailed Szczepanski on the morning of December 3, 2021, writing that he was "stunned" by the allegations. He claimed he was discussing with his students the possibility of a "lockdown" due to a school shooting in his first-period class. He said he "paraphrased" the aforementioned memo on how to approach the Oxford shooting subject.
In his response, the teacher also cited a school shooting in Arkansas where someone had pulled a fire alarm before opening fire and said he wanted to "alert students to be very aware of their surroundings." Meanwhile, he also denied ever bringing a weapon onto campus. "I would consider myself to be one of the last people to possibly be a threat to the students," he declared in the email.
Speaking to Insider, a Michigan State Police spokesperson said a criminal investigation into Wiesema's comments was underway and that it had been forwarded to the Allegan County Prosecuting Attorney's Office.