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Mother seeks apology for special needs student hit by door

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A two-day suspension issued to a Red Wing High School teacher for slamming a door that struck a special needs student is not enough, the mother of the student said.

Lucy Burke, who said she has kept quiet publicly pending investigations of the November 2017 incident, is now speaking out for greater accountability for what happened to her son, starting with an apology from the teacher.

"When kids fight at school they make them apologize to each other, and I think he should have at least gotten an apology," Burke said, adding her son has lost trust in the school following the incident.

PREVIOUSLY: Teacher placed on leave during investigation

Language arts teacher Gregory Grinager served a suspension Feb. 7-8 following the Nov. 14, 2017, incident in which he slammed his classroom door on a disruptive special needs student who had entered the doorway and refused to leave, according to a disciplinary action notice obtained through a data request by the R-E. The impact damaged the student's glasses and caused a small cut and bruise to his face.

Cellphone video of the incident captured by students inside the classroom was circulated on social media.

Burke said her son initially downplayed what happened because he was afraid he would get in trouble for ducking class and being disruptive when the incident occurred. Seeing the videos the next day made her realize it was more serious, she said.

Grinager declined to comment for this story.

The December 2017 disciplinary notice signed by Superintendent Karsten Anderson calls Grinager's behavior with the student "inappropriate and unprofessional," noting the teacher did not check on the student's welfare, immediately apologize or voluntarily report the incident to the principal.

"Becoming frustrated or agitated and engaging in physically aggressive conduct toward a student to enforce the student's cooperation is inappropriate and will not be tolerated," the notice states.

In addition to the suspension, Grinager was ordered by the school district to comply with three directives, the specifics of which were not made public in accordance with public data advisory opinions by the Minnesota Department of Administration.

Grinager has held a Minnesota educator license since 1987, according to the Minnesota Professional Educator Licensing and Standards Board.

Michael Brun

Michael Brun joined RiverTown Multimedia at the Red Wing Republican Eagle in March 2013, covering county government, health and local events.  He is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin-River Falls journalism program.

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