A teacher in North Carolina has resigned after telling Black students in her class that they would be her “field slaves” if not for the Constitution—one of several recent racist incidents at the charter school, according to a parent.
In September, the eighth-grade English teacher at Winterville Charter Academy, near Greenville, had Black students raise their hands on Constitution Day and told them that they would be her “field slaves” without the founding document.
After the incident sparked heated discussion between parents on social media, Winterville’s principal, Annastasia Ryan, sent a letter on Oct. 5 alerting families to the situation.
“As soon as we were made aware...we immediately took action,” she wrote. “The result was a teacher resignation.”
The teacher will not return to the school, and Ryan iterated that “culturally sensitive training” would be available to the former instructor as well as current and future teachers.
“Our school culture is built on one of acceptance, love, and respect to serve all children and their families,” Ryan said in her letter. “The inner workings of our school are surrounded by intentional effort to eliminate implicit and explicit bias.”
But 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 parent Kanisha Tillman.
Tillman said that parents planned to have a meeting with the principal after the incident, but the doors were locked when they got to the school and officials told them the meeting had been canceled.
Tillman, whose child was in the English class, said that students have made complaints about racist incidents at the charter school before but nothing was ever done.
The parent cited one incident in which a group of Black students were talking about how racist it is to compare Black people to monkeys. During the discussion, a teacher happened to walk by and allegedly told the students, “It’s O.K. You’re all my little monkeys,” Tillman said.
And the questionable comments don’t end there, according to the parent. Others have alleged that Black and white students have been treated differently in class.
In one incident, Tillman explained to the Associated Press that a white student allegedly called a Black classmate a “monkey.” The Black student reported the incident to the teacher, and the teacher said that it was fine and, “We’re all a little bit racist.”
In turn, the Black child called the white student a “cracker,” and the teacher threatened disciplinary action, Tillman said.
Ryan has also noted in her memo to Winterville families that the school is investigating another incident in which a racist comment was allegedly made by a student who never faced consequences.