FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM) – Community activists and the superintendent of the Fort Worth Independent School District called for a high school English teacher to be fired Thursday, after a video showed her allowing a student to repeatedly use a racial slur during a class presentation.
Dr. Kent Scribner said he was “disgusted” by the video from a freshman level, pre-AP English class at Paschal High School.
The teacher, who Scribner said was experienced, was placed on leave Monday after the district became aware of the incident. It would be up to the school board to fire her if she doesn’t resign from her position first.
A large number of police officers were around the campus Thursday, where a group of community activists, including several pastors, called for the district to take additional actions.
Michael Bell said he didn’t care what the context of the assignment was. He wanted more training for staff, counseling for students, and documentation on the racial makeup of certified teaching staff at the school.
“That’s an insult,” he said. “And it constitutes injury, to students and faculty and staff.”
Kyev Tatum, a local pastor, went a step further, calling for the entire administration at the school to also be replaced over the incident. It showed the district as a whole, he said, is undertrained when it comes to race.
Scribner, who said there was no excuse for the teacher not intervening during the two and a half minute presentation, agreed continued training is necessary for school district employees. It’s not indicative of the core though, he countered, of the district’s 5,300 educators.
He also drew parallels between the video, and public opposition to district equity policies at school board meetings.
“We hear these voices quite regularly, not only on the news or social media, but also in our school board meetings,” he said. “The school board room has become the public square where many political grievances are manifested.”
The video was recorded Friday afternoon. Scribner said the district learned about it over the weekend, and had the teacher stay home Monday. The principal met with student body groups this week, and a letter was sent to parents about the incident.
Scribner was not able to say specifically what the assignment was. The student appears to be performing a portion of Romeo and Juliet, but rewritten to describe the character of Romeo as a slave, using a racial slur to refer to him.
Amid nervous laughter and gasps from students, the teacher stops the performance at one point after the student talking about picking cotton, to say it shouldn’t be set in “pre-Civil War,” but then allows him to continue saying he should try to stay “as true to the original text as possible.”