A North Carolina teacher at Winterville Charter Academy has resigned after she taught a “racially insensitive lesson” to her class of eighth-graders in which she told her Black students that if it weren’t for the Constitution, they’d be her “field slaves.”
While speaking with local news source WITN-TV, a parent of one of the students in the class, Kanisha Tillman, shared that the teacher “had them [the Black students] raise their hand during a constitutional lesson and reminded them that if it wasn’t for the Constitution, they would be her slaves. Her field slaves.”
Unfortunately, the teacher’s racist lesson only added to a history of racial insensitivity Tillman and other parents have expressed their children have been subjected to at the school.
According to Tillman, a fellow parent sent her a text message on Sept. 20 about another racially disturbing incident with the same eighth-grade teacher. After receiving the message, she followed up to get his version of what happened as well.
“A white student had called a Black student a monkey,” Tillman shared with The Associated Press. “When the Black student educated him on that being racist and him not liking it and not to call him that and asked the teacher for support, the teacher turned around and said to him, ‘Oh, it’s OK. We’re all a little bit racist.'”
When the Black student later called his white peer a “cracker,” the teacher reportedly threatened the Black child with disciplinary measures. The white student returned to school following a two-day suspension.
Tillman relayed another instance previously shared in a Facebook group for parents at the school, in which she claims that when a group of Black girls tried to explain why being called a monkey is racist, a teacher said, “It’s OK, You’re all my little monkeys.”
As of now, the eighth-grade teacher at the center of the allegations remains publicly unidentified. A statement released by Winterville Charter Academy’s Principal, Annastasia Ryan, noted that the educator “was supported in turning in her resignation” by the school’s administration and that the teacher “will not be returning on campus.”
“On Monday evening, it was brought to the attention of school administration that a racially insensitive lesson regarding the importance of the Constitution of the United States was carried out during an English lesson on Constitution Day,” said the memo Ryan issued out to parents on Sept. 24. It went onto detail that in the classroom that day, several students reportedly used “racially insensitive words.”
According to the memo, the lesson overall occurred “without appropriate redirection along with inappropriate response from the educator.” Ryan’s letter home to the parents also outlined that “culturally sensitive training for the teacher that resigned will be provided, along with proactive training measures for our current and future staff members.”
As reported by NBC, Colleen Cullison, a spokesperson for National Heritage Academies (the parent company of Winterville Charter Academy), said in a statement:
“The school leadership team acted immediately upon learning about a racially insensitive lesson and student remarks, and is currently working to address ongoing concerns from parents that racially insensitive student remarks continue.”
While Cullison noted that she couldn’t go into details because of privacy concerns, National Heritage Academies “will not tolerate racism in our school community and will continue taking swift action that addresses these issues.”
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