Student reacts to teacher saying MLK killed himself
The Wake County school board is praising how the students and staff at a Garner elementary school responded after a substitute teacher allegedly made racially charged comments about the death of Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and about what the students were wearing in class.
Students at Rand Road Elementary School accused a substitute music teacher of telling several students of color on Feb. 8 that they were marked for prison because of their clothing and that King had died by suicide and was not assassinated. Their parents complained to the school’s principal.
During the investigation, the teacher was not allowed to work at any schools in the district. Wake school officials have said that the teacher informed them that she no longer wants to work for the district.
At Tuesday’s school board meeting, school board chairman Jim Martin said the board wanted to thank Rand Road’s students and staff for how they handled the situation.
“As people have seen in the news, there were some pretty intense racial incidents that happened at that school and the students were empowered to stand up appropriately,” Martin said. “The staff acted appropriately and immediately and I think handled a situation that should never have happened incredibly well.
“I just want to publicly acknowledge from the board we are very proud of students and staff at Rand Road for that kind of work. Thank you.”
School board member Monika Johnson-Hostler added that the “swift action” taken at Rand Road is “what I know all of our administrators hope and strive to do.”
Billy Byrd, a Rand Road parent whose complaints against the teacher went viral on social media, said Wednesday he appreciated the school board’s comments.
“I am definitely happy they stood in defense of the kids,” he said.
Byrd said that Johnson-Hostler will be meeting with some parents to talk about what happened. He’s hoping to get the district to change how it hires substitute teachers.
The News and Observer previously reported that the substitute teacher was upset, Byrd said, because some students weren’t listening to her directions. He said the teacher began talking about President Donald Trump and told the students that they weren’t real Christians if they didn’t support the president.
It escalated, the News & Observer previously reported, into the teacher allegedly saying that King had not been assassinated.
“We had to draw the line there,” Nathan Byrd, Bllly Byrd’s son, previously said. “All the things she was telling us were completely wrong. We had to tell her, ‘Nothing you’re saying is making any sense.’”
Billy Byrd said the teacher became more frustrated and accused the students of harassing her. He said the teacher ultimately told Nathan and several other male students of color they were marked for prison because of what they were wearing.
“We felt discriminated,” Nathan said. “But at the same time, we can’t let her get to us, because what she’s saying was not true. We had to stand up for ourselves.”
Byrd said Nathan had on the athletic apparel he had worn to play basketball the night before. Byrd said that Nathan was excited to show his classmates that he had played for a great team in a Knightdale youth basketball league.