A Detroit high school teacher is suing the East Detroit Public Schools, saying he was punished by the district after cooperating with the police after the death of a student on campus. The teacher, David Zauner, was hailed a hero after he attempted
The student, a 14-year-old named KeAir Swift, drowned at the East Detroit. High School pool on November 8th, 2013. The swim instructor, Johnathan Sails, is facing a trial in Macomb County Circuit Court on felony charges of involuntary manslaughter. Witness testified that Sails, the instructor of the pool lesson, had been sitting in the bleachers, fully clothed, during the class.
When the student began to drown, Sails reportedly left to go change clothes in the locker room, before jumping into the water. Once in the pool, witnesses claim Sails then stated that it was too deep to rescue the boy. Zauner, who heard the commotion, came in from a different part of the school and jumped into the pool fully clothed, reached Swift and pulled him from the water. The boy could not be revived.
According to the lawsuit, Zauner gave police written statements, one of those being that he had told the athletic director, John Rizzo, that Sails was incompetent as a pool instructor. Sails was not a certified lifeguard and was a substitute teacher.
Zauner’s lawsuit stems from a ‘whistle-blower’ perspective, as Zauner’s statements indicate school officials attempted to cover up the drowning by secretly purchasing safety-related pool equipment. Rizzo reported wanted to ‘cover up’ the purchases, to make it appear the equipment had been available at the time.
Zauner reports that after his cooperation with police, Rizzo and other district administrators began to retaliate, putting together a bogus paper trail to have the veteran school teacher fired from his position. On May 7th, the teacher also claims he was told to meet with an attorney representing the district in the lawsuit filed by Swift’s mother.
“(T)he purpose of the meeting was to threaten, bully, harass and intimidate Plaintiff against cooperating any further with the Police investigation, or to take a position adverse to the Defendants in the Swift civil lawsuit,” according to the lawsuit.