A teacher has created an outrage after telling her grade 8 black students that they would be her “field slaves” if not for the constitution.
An eighth-grade English teacher at Winterville Charter Academy, near Greenville in North Carolina, had Black students raise their hands on Constitution Day and told them that they would be her “field slaves” without it.
Kanisha Tillman, who has a son in eighth grade at Winterville Charter Academy, told WITN the unidentified teacher singled out black students during a lesson on the Constitution in late September that led to alleged bullying by other pupils.
“She had them raise their hand during a constitutional lesson and reminded them that if it wasn’t for the Constitution, they would be her slaves,” Kanisha said, “Her field slaves.”
Kanisha also shared a separate incident her son relayed to her after another parent had texted to tell her about racism at the school.
“A white student had called a Black student a monkey,” the furious mom told 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 okay, we’re all a little bit racist,” she added.
The Black student then called the white student a “cracker,” prompting the teacher to threaten the Black student with disciplinary action.
Kanisha added another incident in which a group of Black students was talking about how racist it is to compare Black people to monkeys.
Moreover, Kanisha said that during the discussion, a teacher happened to walk by and allegedly told the students: “It’s O.K. You’re all my little monkeys.”
These accounts and others were reportedly posted in a Facebook group for parents at the school.
After the gruesome incident went viral on social media, Winterville’s principal, Annastasia Ryan addressed the situation in a letter sent to families on October 5th.
“As soon as we were made aware…we immediately took action,” the principal wrote. The result was a teacher resignation.”
Annastasia confirmed that the teacher will not be returning to the school, and said “culturally sensitive training” would be available to the former instructor as well as for current and future staff members.
The memo also claims that two “racially insensitive words” were used by multiple children in the classroom “without appropriate redirection along with the inappropriate response from the educator.”
“Our school culture is built on one of acceptance, love, and respect to serve all children and their families,” the principal added. “The inner workings of our school are surrounded by intentional effort to eliminate implicit and explicit bias.”
Reports of the classroom incident led to angry posts on the school’s Facebook page, including some that called for administrators to “expose the teacher”.
They also ask the parents to remove their children from the tuition-free K-8 public charter school, where 61 percent of 661 students at the school are black, while 26 percent are white, according to its website.
Some parents and students believe the school’s reaction wasn’t strong enough, alleging nothing was done until the incident was made public on social media.
“I believe that the school was aware of it and they decided just to keep brushing it off,” said Kanisha.
Colleen Cullison, a spokeswoman for National Heritage Academies, the parent institution of Winterville Charter Academy, told The Denver Gazette that the “school leadership” had responded “immediately” after hearing about the incident.
According to the school’s website, Winterville Charter Academy opened in 2015, and currently has 661 students enrolled from kindergarten through eighth grade.
At least half of the school’s population consists of children who identify as Black or African-American.
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