A North Carolina charter school teacher resigned after she reportedly told Black students they would be her “field slaves” if not for the constitution during a lesson. A parent reportedly said the recent controversy at the Winterville Charter Academy is not the first time the teacher and other students have made racist comments.
“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. Her field slaves,” Kanisha Tillman, a parent whose child was in the classroom, said.
In the aftermath of the incident, Winterville Charter Academy Principal Annastasia Ryan sent a memo to parents of 8th grade students acknowledging a “racially insensitive lesson” took place in the school. Ryan added they had addressed the incident.
“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,” the September 28 memo said.
The memo added a number of students in the classroom also used two “racially insensitive words” without “appropriate redirection along with inappropriate response from the educator.”
The memo said an investigation was subsequently opened and “the teacher was supported in turning in her resignation and will not be returning on campus.”
“Culturally sensitive training for the teacher that resigned will be provided, along with proactive training measures for our current and future staff members,” said the memo.
However, Kanisha Tillman, a parent whose child is an eighth-grade student at the school, told The Associated Press there had been other racist incidents involving the teacher and other students.
Tillman said she received a text message from another parent who told her about how a particular teacher was supposedly treating Black and White students. Tillman also recalled an incident in the school her son told her about.
“A white student had called a Black student a monkey,” Tillman said in reference to what her son told her. “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.’”
But when the Black student reacted to the comment by calling the White student a “cracker”, Tillman said the teacher threatened to punish the Black student.
Tillman also said she believes school authorities were aware of the incidents but did nothing about them, adding Ryan even called off a scheduled meeting with parents on Wednesday. She said they would have raised that topic had the meeting taken place.
“I don’t believe the school had no idea before Sept. 20,” she said. “I believe that the school was aware of it and they decided just to keep brushing it off.”
Meanwhile, the National Heritage Academies – the management company Winterville Charter Academy falls under – said it “is currently working to address ongoing concerns from parents that racially insensitive student remarks continue.”
“While student and staff privacy rights prevent me from sharing specific details, what I can share is that we will not tolerate racism in our school community and will continue taking swift action that addresses these issues.”