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White Plains Substitute Teacher Says He Was Fired Over Trump Debate

Charles Michelsen said he was a substitute teacher in a photography class at White Plains High School where a political discussion became heated.
Charles Michelsen said he was a substitute teacher in a photography class at White Plains High School where a political discussion became heated. Photo Credit: Contributed

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. -- A substitute teacher in the the White Plains School District claims he was asked to leave his job over a classroom Trump discussion in October.

Charles Michelsen told Daily Voice that White Plains High School Principal Ellen Doherty made the move because of a "current events" discussion he initiated at the end of an art photography class he was teaching as a substitute on Oct. 24.

Michelsen said in an email the district's Assistant Superintendent for Human Resources Corey Reynolds "formally fired" him.

"Personnel matters are confidential in nature, which prevents us from providing comment either verbally or in writing," Reynolds told Daily Voice in an email.

Michelsen said the students had just finished an assignment and the class had 10 minutes remaining.

He said 20 or more students were sitting around several tables that were pushed together to form one, large table.

"The silence was starting to get a little awkward. To break the monotony and help speed those 10 minutes along I threw this current events item out for discussion: 'So who’s going to win two weeks from now?'

"That woke everyone up quick, and a flurry of nasty, anti-Trump comments and even some salty epithets, made their way out of several students’ mouths," Michelsen said.

None of the students spoke in support of Donald Trump, he said, noting the president-elect was "clearly despised by all."

Michelsen said he asked the students, "Sounds like everyone wants Hillary. But is anyone here at all troubled that Hillary has amassed a $300 million fortune in the past 15 years?”

One student responded angrily and said he was troubled over Trump's bankruptcy and female assault allegations, among other issues.

When the student finished, another agreed, and others were holding "side conversations" about Trump.

"The level of anti-Trump ignorance and vitriol being poured out was shocking," according to Michelsen, who added that a student compared Trump to being like Hitler.

A student, he claimed, asked if he was voting for Donald Trump.

Michelsen said he was and explained his reasons.

The student who had become angry argued with him, according to Michelsen.

Others joined the discussion, which got "way too heated," Michelsen said.

"I thought I’d lighten it up quickly by making them all laugh. 'C’mon. Hitler wasn’t that bad!'

"Mistake. None of them understood what I was trying to say, to wit that even Hitler — arguably the most evil man to ever rule a country — was still not as bad as Trump. But the irony and the joke flew way over their heads."

Later when the class was over and he was teaching another, Michelson said he was "summoned" to the principal's office.

He claims Doherty and an assistant principal questioned his discussion and asked about some of his remarks, including the one about Hitler.

Michelsen said he tried to explain his reason for the remarks but was told, "We are not going to have you back."

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