Charges Against Teacher Dismissed in Drowning

Andy Berg Headshot

A judge this week dismissed criminal charges that were filed against a Detroit school teacher in connection with the drowning of a 15-year-old student at Mumford High School.

Kareem Sigler had been charged with involuntary manslaughter in the Feb. 24, 2020, death of De’Sean Blanding.

Blanding was a student in Sigler’s class the day he was found unresponsive by a swimming instructor. CPR was immediately started when the boy was pulled from the pool, but he was later taken to a hospital where he was pronounced dead.

Sigler had initially been accused of gross negligence, but judge Kenneth King ruled that Detroit Public School should shoulder the blame.

Defense for Sigler said that while Sigler had trouble taking attendance that day, he never left the pool. Prosecutors meanwhile said that students were playing a dunking game but that Sigler was unaware of it.

King told the court that while the incident was tragic, prosecution needed to show more evidence to prove involuntary manslaughter.

"Had he been at McDonald's while class was going on and left the class unattended, if he was drinking on the job, and left for any extended period of time, that would most certainly be gross negligence," King said, according to the local Fox affiliate. "Ordinary negligence, turning your back for a minute or two does not qualify as gross negligence."

King said that Sigler’s actions were not reckless, pointing the finger at the school system for failing Blanding.

"If there's anybody, anyone to really be blamed here, I think the Detroit Public Schools are at fault. Anytime that you have a single teacher in a swim class in charge of over 30 students in a class, that in and of itself is reckless," he said. "I don't think that we can blame Mr. Sigler for that. That's his job. But I think it is a terrible idea to have any teacher teaching any class to have over 30 students, particularly in a swim class."

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