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Sheriff’s Office investigating alleged death threats against West Jeff math teacher

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By Sal Christ

The Jeffco Sheriff’s Office is investigating a complaint by a teacher at West Jefferson Middle School that a student made death threats against her after she alleged that anti-Semitic acts were committed against several students.

According to sheriff’s spokeswoman Jenny Fulton, teacher Rebecca Stewart filed a report on Jan. 31 alleging that a student made threatening remarks toward her in the presence of other students in her class. Fulton confirmed the nature of the student’s alleged remarks and said the department was conferring with the school district. However, she was unable to disclose Stewart’s report and other details because the investigation is ongoing.

Jeffco Public Schools spokeswoman Diana Wilson confirmed the allegations and said the district took action after the threats came to light, but she did not give details regarding what action was taken.

Stewart teaches seventh-grade math at the school but has been on medical leave since January.

Information about the teacher’s complaint comes a month after an eighth-grade student spoke before the school board and alleged that she had been the target of anti-Semitic acts. Student Isabella Grunspan told board members that West Jeff students have targeted her daily not only for being Jewish but also for standing up for other minorities.

A discrimination complaint has been filed against Jeffco Public Schools with the U.S. Department of Education's Office of Civil Rights. The office has not released its findings.

Regarding Stewart’s complaint with the Jeffco sheriff, documents acquired by the Courier state that Stewart approached Rebecca Brown, West Jeff's principal, late last year regarding what Stewart called an “anti-Semitic atmosphere that has been created and allowed to exist” at the school.

In a Dec. 1 letter to Brown, Stewart said she reported several incidences of anti-Semitism to school administration and also said she supported several Jewish students who were targeted and “intimidated” by others at the school. She claims administrators were inattentive and dismissive of the issue.

Furthermore, Stewart alleges in the letter that students in another teacher's class were told that “Jews are like cookies, they are both baked in the oven,” and that “the Nazis should have gassed more Jews.”

The death threats against Stewart allegedly were made after she approached West Jeff's administration.

While Stewart confirmed that she filed a report about the death threats with the Sheriff's Office, she declined to speak further because her attorney, Bill Finger, has advised against it.

Isabella Grunspan's complaint

At the Jan. 12 school board meeting, Isabella Grunspan told the board: “I constantly deal with anti-Semitism, with other students saying that Hitler was a genius. Students have said that I should be placed in the oven like the rest of the 6 million Jews, or gassed like the Zika virus."

A spokesman for the Department of Education confirmed that the department's Office of Civil Rights is investigating “possible national origin discrimination involving religion” in a case that was opened Nov. 8.        

Contact reporter Sal Christ at sal@evergreenco.comor at 303-350-1035.