Triton teacher suspended after pushing student who sprayed hot sparks at him
The teacher would have to complete classroom management training course as well as anger management counseling within a year to have the penalty removed.
DODGE CENTER — A teacher from Triton Public Schools received a year-long stayed suspension on his license after he pushed a student who sprayed hot sparks at him during shop class.
The Minnesota Professional Educator Licensing and Standards Board (PELSB) released a summary of the incident, as well as the ramifications for the teacher. The summary was dated Oct. 10.
According to that summary, the licensing board issued a stayed suspension of the teacher, Robert Olson, for one year. Essentially that means the licensing board could suspend the license of that teacher if he doesn't comply with the board's requirements.
As a result of the board's decision, Olson would have to complete a classroom management training course as well as anger management counseling within a year to have the stayed suspension removed. Olson also would be responsible for the costs of the training and counseling.
"I think the suspension and the requirements are a bit excessive on the part of PELSB," said Brian Felten, co-president of the teachers union for Triton Public Schools.
Felten said the union is able to help make sure teachers' rights are not infringed upon and make sure that there's a process for evaluating disciplinary cases. However, he said the union doesn't have a say in the decision PELSB makes in regard to teaching licenses.
According to Triton High School Principal Luke Lutterman, Olson is no longer an employee of the district. The district's school board minutes for April 18, 2022, indicated Olson resigned from the school.
Olson did not respond to a request for comment.
According to the licensing board, Olson was upset at a student in metals class for using a grinder "in a dangerous manner that could have resulted in injury or a fire." The document said Olson had warned the student about the behavior on multiple previous occasions.
The student then "aimed the grinder at licensee (Olson), and sprayed him with the extremely hot sparks that were produced by the grinder."
According to the licensing board, Olson took the grinder away from the student and "slammed it on the table." Olson then pushed the student, told the student to leave, and swore at the student.
As the student was leaving the room, Olson "pushed the student in the shoulder and removed the student's hat."
The school district suspended Olson for five days without pay.
Lutterman said he could not comment on whether the school disciplined the student in any way.
Alex Liuzzi, executive director for PELSB, said he could not comment on how the board came to the decision regarding Olson's stayed suspension. The summary of the incident states that the board "has the authority to revoke or suspend a Minnesota teaching license based on causes including immoral character or conduct based on violations of the Code of Ethics for Minnesota Teachers."
Based in Dodge Center, Triton Public Schools serves the communities of Claremont, Dodge Center and West Concord. Dodge Center is located roughly 20 miles west of Rochester on U.S. Highway 14.