A Springfield, Missouri school and the entire district has banned a substitute teacher after he allegedly made racist and threatening comments to two black middle school students.
The incident reportedly happened on January 16 at Hickory Hills Elementary and Middle School, according to the Springfield News-Leader.
Jean Hawkins, a mother to one of the students involved, said her son, 14, and his classmate walked into class that Wednesday morning to meet a male substitute teacher they did not know.
According to Hawkins, the teacher then made the offensive comments allegedly directed at them in front of the class:
"The teacher tells them, 'I was told to shoot you black boys. You black boys are nothing but trouble.' He said, 'I've been told to shoot you.’”
Hawkins said her son was not sure how to react to the teacher’s words.
"He just looked at him [the teacher], and he couldn't believe what he was saying. He was like ‘Wow,’” she said. "He didn't know if he should run."
Hawkins said her son was not sure who reported the teacher, but the incident was investigated by a school administrator, leading to the substitute teacher being escorted out of the school.
Chief communications officer for Springfield Public Schools, Stephen Hall, addressed the incident, insisting that the alleged comments do not align with what the school district stands for.
"I want something done about this. ...It's just scary. I don't even know who he is."
Substitute teachers are hired directly by Penmac Education Staffing, a Springfield-based company. The school district only contracts the firm to get the Subs.
"Immediately upon learning of these allegations, our administrator notified Penmac of the situation and escorted the substitute from the building. There is zero tolerance for any comment like those described. SPS remains committed to ensuring that all of our students thrive in a learning environment where they feel safe, welcomed and respected. Because of that commitment and our refusal to accept any behavior that fails to meet those standards, we can confirm that this individual was removed from the list of eligible SPS substitutes, on the same day the allegations were made, and will not return to SPS in any capacity.”
Hawkins, however, believes that more should be done. She said she lodged a complaint with Penmac, requesting the name of the substitute, but it has not been released.
"I want something done about this. Maybe this man will be somewhere else," she said. "It's just scary. I don't even know who he is."
Meanwhile, Penmac revealed in a statement that the “substitute teacher in question is suspended from all new assignments pending a full investigation in partnership with Springfield Public Schools.”
In related news, a teacher was fired from her job last November after she cut off one Native American student’s braid and referred to another as a bloody Indian.
Two months ago, another substitute teacher sparked outrage for telling her first-grade pupils Santa Claus is not real, thereby “ruining” their Christmas.
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