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Fargo teacher accused of bullying will be back in school this fall

Fargo Public Schools teacher Andrea Deschamp.

FARGO—A Fargo Public Schools teacher who was removed from her classroom last November after being accused of bullying four children will teach at the elementary level at a north Fargo school in the coming school year.

Andrea Deschamp, who is in a special training and mentorship program, will teach second-graders at Madison Elementary School on the city's north side, school district spokeswoman AnnMarie Campbell confirmed Wednesday, June 13.

Trainers and mentors "helped her shape her skills" while she was allowed to teach at the elementary level at another school in the district, Campbell said.

"When she comes back to the classroom, we'll continue to work with her, and she will continue to get coaching and mentorship," Campbell said. "We look forward to having her come back in the fall."

Deschamp had taught fifth-graders at Lewis and Clark Elementary School before a formal complaint was filed Nov. 7 and she was put on leave.

A district investigation later concluded the allegations of bullying were substantiated, and Deschamp, who was in her ninth year of teaching, was told she would have to get additional training; take part in a mentorship program; build positive relationships with parents, teachers, students and staff; not retaliate against anyone; and not be involved in further incidents or she would be fired.

Attempts to reach Deschamp for comment were not successful.

Laura Christensen, president of the local teachers union known as the Fargo Education Association, said school district administrators had to walk a fine line in responding to complaints from parents while trying to help a teacher "who had much to offer" but "needed some help to be that person again, that teacher."

Christensen, who was part of Deschamp's support team, said the school district "helped Miss Deschamp rediscover her strength and help(ed) her work on some issues that weren't as effective as we really need our teachers to be."

Deschamp had to work hard to meet the training and mentorship goals, Christensen said.

"It wasn't just checking off the boxes," Christensen said. "She can feel successful, and her support team feels she can be successful."

Getting Deschamp back in the classroom is worthwhile, because "that's where she does her best magic," Christensen said.

Helmut Schmidt

Helmut Schmidt was born in Germany, but grew up in the Twin Cities area, graduating from Park High School of Cottage Grove. After serving a tour in the U.S. Army, he attended the University of St. Thomas in St Paul, Minn., graduating in 1984 with a degree in journalism. He then worked at the Albert Lea (Minn.) Tribune and served as managing editor there for three years. He joined The Forum in October 1989, working as a copy editor until 2000. Since then, he has worked as a reporter on several beats, including education, Fargo city government, business and military affairs. He is currently The Forum's K-12 education reporter.

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