South Lake Tahoe parent files complaint against teacher for alleged suicide scenario
SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. – The parent of a South Lake Tahoe Middle School student has filed a complaint with the school district against a teacher who reportedly referenced suicide during a classroom exercise.
Eric Quistgard, a local parent and longtime Pop Warner coach, filed the complaint last week against middle school teacher Kelly Dant following a classroom exercise during the first week of school that allegedly offered suicide with a razor blade as one of three options.
Quistgard has removed his son from Dant’s classroom and is awaiting the outcome of the district’s investigation.
Dant is still teaching during the investigation. Dant did not return calls for comment.
Principal Beth Delacour said she could not comment during the investigation. James Tarwater, Lake Tahoe Unified School District superintendent, confirmed the complaint had been filed but said he could not comment during the investigation.
Tarwater said the district has 30 days to complete its investigation; he added that 95 percent of parental complaints are resolved by a school principal before they reach a formal complaint.
According to Quistgard, his son came home during the first week of school and described a “perspective thinking” exercise during Dant’s eighth-grade social studies class.
As described by Quistgard’s son, the students drew two swimming pools with four walls closing in on them, as to push them into the pool. Students would have a choice as to which pool, but no escaping the fall. Pool No. 1 was as deep as the students’ chins. Pool No. 2 was 20-feet deep.
Then, the students were allegedly told to fill each pool with the worst imaginable substance; it could not kill them when they were pushed in, nor could it be sexual in nature. Quistgard said the students suggested human feces, eyeballs, dead bodies and quick sand, among other things.
Students were then reportedly told to choose three options: the shallow pool, the deep pool or suicide with a razor blade to avoid either option. Those who chose the suicide option were then told “they would not be allowed to discuss their choice because they did not matter; they were dead already,” Eric Quistgard said.
“This is way beyond a teaching mistake,” Eric Quistgard said. “To even bring up the word suicide, I don’t care what the intention was there, but to go down that path and have kids choose suicide as an option is just outrageous to me.”
Debbie Posnien, executive director of the Suicide Prevention Network in Douglas County, said the scenario as described by Quistgard’s son “is horrible.”
“No. 1, suicide should never be an option,” Posnien said. “That is horrible that he is actually letting the kids choose. I’ve never heard of this (scenario) before, but I am not in a classroom each and every day.
“I go into schools and I talk about the awareness of suicide and what are some of the warning signs … giving away possessions, being depressed … so to push the kids into an option that they could chose suicide is outrageous. I don’t blame that parent for being outraged.”
There are several positive comments about Dant on Ratemyteachers.com. “The best teacher in our school,” one commenter wrote. “Still wish I had him this year.”
Another posted, “He’s still my favorite teacher.”
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