Black mom condemns Florida school teacher who let giggling seventh-graders shout out the n-word

Black mom condemns Florida Catholic school teacher who let giggling seventh-graders shout out the n-word while reading Tom Sawyer – only for school to then blame youngsters for misbehaving

  • A Black mom has spoken out against her son’s Florida Catholic school teacher for encouraging his classmates to say the n-word while reading Tom Sawyer
  • The incident transpired earlier this month in the seventh-grader’s classroom at St. Charles Borromeo Catholic School in Port Charlotte earlier this month 
  •  However, when the class reached an excerpt where a character uttered the aforementioned slur, the students began to act out, the school claims
  •  Desperate to regain control of the class, the teacher, reportedly fed-up with the students, told them to all say the word together to get it out of their systems
  • The students obliged – leading several parents to send a slew of the complaints to the school upon hearing about the occurrence from their kids
  • Those complaints sparked a response from the school, in which Principal Tonya Peters blamed the incident on the students ‘immature behavior’ 
  • It further revealed that the teacher who gave the order would not face repercussions for her actions – to the chagrin of the anonymous mother

A Black mom has spoken out against her son’s Florida Catholic school teacher for encouraging his classmates to say the n-word during a reading of Tom Sawyer.

The incident transpired earlier this month in the seventh-grader’s classroom at St. Charles Borromeo Catholic School in Port Charlotte, as students read aloud from the classic novel.

However, when the class reached an excerpt where a character uttered the aforementioned slur, the students began to act out, the school claims – with some threatening to say the word in its entirety aloud.

Desperate to regain control of the class, the teacher, reportedly fed-up with the students, instructed them to all say the word together, in unison, as to get it out of their systems.

The students obliged – leading several parents to send a slew of the complaints to the school upon hearing about the occurrence from their kids.

Those complaints sparked a response from the school, in which Principal Tonya Peters blamed the incident on the students ‘immature behavior.’ It further revealed that the teacher who gave the order would not face repercussions for her actions.

That response was not enough for this mother, however, who said she was so ‘outraged’ when she learned of the incident, she stormed to confront the teacher responsible. 

She spoke to NBC-2 of the occurrence, under the condition the station did not share her name.

A Black mom has spoken out against her son's Florida Catholic school teacher for encouraging his classmates to say the n-word during a reading of Tom Sawyer. The incident transpired earlier this month in at St. Charles Borromeo Catholic School in Port Charlotte this month

A Black mom has spoken out against her son’s Florida Catholic school teacher for encouraging his classmates to say the n-word during a reading of Tom Sawyer. The incident transpired earlier this month in at St. Charles Borromeo Catholic School in Port Charlotte this month

‘It was horrible. It was awkward, it was embarrassing,’ said the mother, who recalled how she called her son after seeing the email from school staffers.

‘You don’t want to even think that would happen to your child.

‘You already know that word takes people back to a certain time – and they don’t want to remember that,’ she said, speaking to the local outlet in her living room.

The school district’s response to the incident, meanwhile – which was detailed in the correspondence sent to parents – did little to quell her rage, deflecting responsibility from the teacher, identified only as Mrs. Zimmerman, to the class itself. 

“Students in the 7th-grade class were acting out, implying they were going to say the “n” word aloud,’ said Karen Barry Schwarz, Director of communication Diocese of Venice in the district’s initial response.

 ‘The teacher then instructed the boys to just say the word, so they could then move on through that passage of the book.’

The statement did not name the teacher, nor did it specify any sort of punishment in store. 

Unsatisfied with the response, the mother told NBC2 that she decided to go to the school and address the issue at the source by speaking with the instructor.

‘You don’t want to even think that would happen to your child. ‘You already know that word takes people back to a certain time – and they don’t want to remember that,’ she said, speaking to local outlet NBC -2 in her living room, under the condition of anonymity

‘You don’t want to even think that would happen to your child. ‘You already know that word takes people back to a certain time – and they don’t want to remember that,’ she said, speaking to local outlet NBC -2 in her living room, under the condition of anonymity

‘I need to go down there and see this teacher myself and look this teacher in the face and ask her why she thought this was a good idea,’ the mother said of her thought process at the time.

‘And I asked her,’ the mom recalled saying to the staffer. ‘“If the word was: F-U-C-K, space, Y-O-U, would you tell the class to all say it together in unison? She said “no.”‘

After speaking to the teacher, she said, the school sent out another notice that further attested to her innocent, instead blaming the students’ ‘immature’ behavior.

‘Dear Seventh Grade Parents,’ the message, penned by Principal Peters and her Assistant Principal Chris Mullins on November 15, began.

‘Recently, there was a situation related to a racial slur during the reading of Tom Sawyer. The slur, which is part of the book, was said out loud during the reading.’

The incident transpired earlier this month in the seventh-grader's classroom at St. Charles Borromeo Catholic School in Port Charlotte, as students read aloud from the classic novel, which is set in 19th century Mississippi. Characters use the slur throughout the book's entirety

The incident transpired earlier this month in the seventh-grader’s classroom at St. Charles Borromeo Catholic School in Port Charlotte, as students read aloud from the classic novel, which is set in 19th century Mississippi. Characters use the slur throughout the book’s entirety

It continued: Several students were unable to control themselves, laughing uncontrollably and behaving, in general, in a very immature manner.

‘The situation frustrated Mrs. Zimmerman to the point that she told the class to just say the word and get it out of their systems,’ the principals went on, before revealing Zimmerman would not be punished for the ill-advised instruction.

It further noted the instructor had already made a public apology to the class and  that the instructor had agreed ‘this situation could have been handled differently’ – despite later accusing the class of spurring the teacher’s instruction.

The principals would then echo the district’s earlier assessment that the students’ actions led to the incident.

Those complaints sparked a response from the school, in which Principal Tonya Peters blamed the incident on the students 'immature behavior.' It also revealed that the teacher who gave the order would not face repercussions for her actions

Those complaints sparked a response from the school, in which Principal Tonya Peters blamed the incident on the students ‘immature behavior.’ It also revealed that the teacher who gave the order would not face repercussions for her actions

‘The root cause of this issue is the consistent poor and immature behavior exhibited by many seventh grade students,’ the notice asserted.

‘Typically, the faculty and administration are a bit more lenient during the first quarter, with the hope the students will mature and the behavior will improve.’

Teh staffers then added that ‘this is not the case with several students in the seventh grade class,’ whose behavior, they said, ‘is getting worse. ‘

‘This cannot continue,’ the notice read. It causing gaps in learning for students who are trying to get an education.

The letter revealed that in response to the backlash over the occurrence, the school will now implement a new behavior policy for the seventh grade, requiring students to write essays for the first two offenses, detention for a third, suspension for a fourth, and finally, dismissal for a fifth infraction.

‘This is across the board and applies to every class, lunch/recess, and after-school activities,’ the statement said.

The school then apologized to any parents offended over the incident, and said they would work to enforce the stricter punishments to prevent similar occurrences in the future.

The mom whose in-person complaint prompted the response, meanwhile, says she has forgiven the instructor for the slip-up, but refuses to stand by the school’s lukewarm response to their staffers’ actions.

‘I am very offended,’ she told NBC-2 Sunday. 

The letter revealed that in response to the backlash over the occurrence, the school will now implement a new behavior policy for the seventh grade, requiring students to write essays for the first two offenses, detention for a third, suspension for a fourth, and finally, dismissal for a fifth infraction. It reiterated an earlier assertion from the district that the kids were responsible

The letter revealed that in response to the backlash over the occurrence, the school will now implement a new behavior policy for the seventh grade, requiring students to write essays for the first two offenses, detention for a third, suspension for a fourth, and finally, dismissal for a fifth infraction. It reiterated an earlier assertion from the district that the kids were responsible

‘I told them, I said: ‘Do not mistake my sympathizing with the teacher with me condoning what she did – two separate things.’

Meanwhile, the staffer responsible for the problematic instruction is still employed by the district, with no plans to remove her as of Tuesday.

The district instructed parents to call the school office if they had any questions regarding their handling of the incident –  but added that their judgment is ‘is not open to discussion or debate.’    

 

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