“I’ll Just Tell The Cops He Has A Gun” School Principal Jokes About Calling Police On Special Needs Student

May 3, 2018  |  


The principal at Ponderosa Elementary School in Houston, Texas decided to tell a joke in front of three staff members about a black, special needs student with behavioral problems. But the joke was overheard by someone else.

According to KPRC 2 Houston, Shanna Swearingen was overheard talking about what she would do the next time the student ran away from class, something he repeatedly does.

“We won’t chase him. We will call the police and tell them he has a gun so they can come faster,” she said.

Does that sound funny to you?

The comments were exposed on a neighborhood Facebook group. While some couldn’t believe the comments, others were disgusted. At the time, it was all just hearsay, but Swearingen admitted to making the “insensitive” comment on April 17 in a statement addressed to the school.

“Ponderosa Family,

“It is with a heavy heart that I write this message. As many of you may be aware, KPRC ran a story late yesterday about Ponderosa Elementary and an incident that occurred last week where I made an insensitive comment that was not reflective of who I am nor how much I care about every student who attends this school.

“Your children mean the world to me, and I’m heartbroken that my thoughtless remark has caused disruption to the hard work underway here at Ponderosa. Here in our community, we had a hard year with Hurricane Harvey, and the damage it caused to a large part of our neighborhood. I was so proud of the unity seen in this community during the recovery efforts.

“Please know that the same commitment and drive that I had to make things right for our children after the storm, I have today as I work to make things right now with both staff and parents.

“I am truly sorry for the comment I made. It does not in any way reflect the love and care I have for the students of Ponderosa.”

Shanna Swearingen, Principal
Ponderosa Elementary School”

Where is the apology to the student and the student’s family directly? While she may not think her comment was “reflective” of who she is, I think it is.

Ashton P. Woods, a member of the Black Lives Matter division in Houston, made it clear that calling the police on a child who does not have a gun could have resulted in him becoming a target.

“Black children are criminalized far too often. What about all the other children who have died because of a toy gun, right? And you’re saying that this child has a gun but doesn’t but actually really needs your help? And that’s sad,” Woods said.

Superintendent Rodney E. Watson, a black man and father himself, released a statement yesterday in response to Swearingen’s version of an apology. Many parents have requested that she be fired, and he revealed that some “disciplinary action has been taken.”

“I was extremely concerned too when I heard about the comment and want to reassure everyone that strong disciplinary action has been taken,” Watson wrote. “As a school district, it is our policy not to discuss personnel issues so it appears some people have assumed that no action was taken on this issue. That is not the case. I would never let a comment of this nature go unaddressed. It is being addressed first and foremost with Principal Swearingen and also with the district as a whole.”

We have been hearing far too many instances of white people calling cops on black people for small stuff. In this case, a white women joked about lying to the cops about a special needs student. If that’s not a fire-able offense, I don’t know what is. What do you think should happen to Swearingen?

Renese spends her early mornings writing, her days securing insurance for TV shows, and her in-betweens blogging about the silliness and seriousness of life on her blog. Follow Renese on Twitter: @reneseford

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