Case dismissed: Judge rules Detroit school district reckless in Mumford student’s drowning

Case dismissed against teacher charged in 15-year-old student’s drowning death at Detroit school

Mumford High School drowning: Judge drops charges against teacher, criticizes Detroit school district

DETROIT – A criminal case has been dropped against a Detroit teacher who was charged in connection with the February 2020 drowning death of a 15-year-old student at Mumford High School.

Judge Kenneth King ruled to dismiss the case on Wednesday, saying the Detroit Public Schools Community District (DPSCD) was reckless when placing the teacher in charge of more than 30 kids in a swim class and that there was insufficient evidence to try Kareem Sigler on an involuntary manslaughter charge.

Da’Sean Blanding, 15, of Detroit, was a student in Sigler’s 11:20 a.m. class Feb. 24, 2020 at Mumford High School, officials said. Sigler was in another room when a student told him Blanding was at the bottom of the pool, authorities said. Sigler dove into the pool and pulled Blanding out with the help of other students, officials said. He told the other students to call 911 while he rendered medical assistance, police said.

Medical officials arrived at the 12:15 p.m. and took Blanding to a nearby hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

Authorities said Sigler was “grossly negligent” in failing to supervise Blanding. That negligence resulted in Blanding’s death, officials alleged. Sigler was charged with involuntary manslaughter, a felony with a maximum penalty of 15 years in prison.

But the case was dismissed Wednesday by Judge King as he called the district reckless and pointed to a lack of evidence in the case against Sigler.

“The dismissal of the Sigler case is going directly to our appellate division for evaluation for an appeal. We do not expect that to be a lengthy process,” reads a statement from the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office.

The school district fired Sigler after its own investigation into Blanding’s death, saying he violated district policy.

“We continue to mourn the loss of Da’Sean Blanding. The school district swiftly investigated Da’Sean’s passing and upon determining that the subject employee violated district policy, the employee was terminated. In a wholly separate process, the justice system has determined that the employee’s actions did not rise to a criminal level. We make no comment on that finding except that we will forever remember Da’Sean,” reads a statement from a DPSCD spokeswoman on Wednesday.

About the Author:

Dave Bartkowiak Jr. is the digital managing editor for ClickOnDetroit.