Racially charged altercation in middle school parking lot, teacher placed on leave

A minor car accident in one Pennsylvania middle school parking lot Thursday morning turned ugly when a teacher decided to make it about race, verbally attacking a parent of one of the students at the school.

In the video posted by the parent on Facebook, the white female teacher, Renee Greeley, who is blurred and unnamed, can be heard shouting, “You’re probably on welfare” and “That’s right, because you’re black, always looking to milk the system.” at an incredulous and understandably defensive African American man, Rasheed Needley, who refuses to stoop to her level. As she waddles to and from her apparently-damaged truck, she takes the opportunity to call him the n-word at least twice, and then pretend to come at him, as if she were going to make the altercation physical.

She has since been placed on “administrative leave” (which in most cases is paid), and the district apologized and assured the public that this teacher’s racist behavior is no way indicative of the school or district. The parent was grateful to the school district for the way it handled the incident, but one has to wonder how many children were on the receiving end of this teacher’s comments prior to her suspension.

The Superintendent of Schools for Upper Darby School District, in which Drexel Hill middle school resides, issued this statement Thursday evening:

Good Evening Upper Darby School District Community:

This is the Superintendent of Schools, Daniel P. McGarry. Tonight, I am calling to address the deeply troubling news and video that is circulating on social media.

Upper Darby School District has investigated an incident in which a teacher in one of our middle schools made racially charged remarks to a parent of a student who attends the school. The Principal of Drexel Hill Middle School contacted central office when he was made aware of the exchange. I met with the parent to review and discuss the incident. The parent reported that during morning drop off on Oct. 10, 2019, he and a teacher were involved in a car accident in the parking lot of Drexel Hill Middle School and that the teacher proceeded to make several racial and other derogatory remarks to him. The video of this incident has been posted to Facebook.

We took this report very seriously. As a result of the investigation, the teacher has been placed on administrative leave pending further investigation. We intend to vigorously address this issue.

Upper Darby School District does not condone or tolerate inappropriate conduct or speech associated with hate, racism, discrimination or intolerance of any kind. The deeply troubling comments and actions of this teacher are not indicative of the hundreds of outstanding teachers working in our schools each and every day. We are a District of over 12,500 students and a community of over 82,000 residents from over 60 countries, with over 70 different home languages. We are a community of many cultures and backgrounds, and we value our diversity. It strengthens us. Through the work we are doing around our Deep Equity Initiative, we will continue to challenge assumptions about the potential of the families whose children we serve and continue to increase access, opportunity, inclusion and support for all of our students.

The behavior, language, and treatment of one of our parents are not in keeping with our expectations of our teachers and staff. The comments and actions made by this teacher do not align with our core beliefs of Opportunity, Unity, and Excellence.

We will be working with our District’s Deep Equity Team to develop ways to reflect on this incident with staff across the District.

The original video, posted by the parent, is below:

Drexel Hill Middle School in Drexel Hill, Pennsylvania, serves 1,254 students in grades 6-8. It is well below the state average in math proficiency, and closer to average for reading and science. Fifty-eight percent of the student population is white, 30% is black. Forty-nine percent of the students are from low-income households.

Drexel Hill Middle School teacher on administrative leave after racially-charged altercation with parent

Upper Darby School District – Drexel Hill Middle School

Drexel Hill Middle School – GreatSchools

School Resource Officers, “pillars of the community”

Just a few news articles about school resource officers over the past couple weeks.

9/23/2019 – Florida school resource officer arrests, handcuffs 6-year-old girl
School resource officer fired after arresting 6-year-olds(“She was having a tantrum,” so apparently police were called in. Their hands were bound with zip ties, they were fingerprinted and charged with battery. But the officer was fired, so I guess all’s well that ends well, right?)

9/24/2019 – School resource officer faces charge after student said he choked him (A Mississippi SRO was placed on administrative leave. The student says he was pushed into the ladies’ restroom and choked. The SRO insists it’s all a lie. Witnesses, including two teachers, corroborate the student’s story.)

9/26/2019 – Alabama grandmother alleges SRO harassed middle school student (An SRO approached a group of children in the lunch room and asked “Which one of y’all’s daddies have I not arrested yet?” When a girl responded that her father hadn’t been arrested, the SRO responded with, “That’s because you don’t know who your daddy is.” This officer has an apparent history of harassing students, yet he remains on duty.)

10/1/2019 – Lawsuit alleges disabled Parma student was sprayed with drink by school resource officer prior to suspension (Ohio parents filing the lawsuit claim they have audio proving the SRO sprayed the child with a juice box as they waited for the principal. They are also claiming discrimination – the student is American, but of Arab descent. Many of these incidents involving SRO’s are allegedly racially motivated.)

10/4/2019 – Jasper Middle School resource officer resigns after probe into texts with students (The Tennessee SRO resigned even though there was found to be “nothing inappropriate” about texting middle school students at all hours of the day and night.)

10/4/2019 – School resource officer sentenced to 1 year in jail for sexually assaulting 3 high school students (A Michigan SRO pleaded no contest to charges such as criminal sexual assault of a minor, assault, and misconduct in office. One of his victims had aspirations of becoming a police officer. Now she is scarred for life. He gets a whopping year in prison.)

This woman gets it. Her article about the need to eliminate school resource officers is spot on, and advocates for the students SRO’s do not. Schools infringe on civil liberties as they are, but school resource officers only compound the issue.

Scabies infestation in Virginia school district

scabies
source: Corbis

At least eight cases of scabies have been confirmed among students within Cumberland School District in Virginia – six at the local elementary school, and two at the middle school. While assistant superintendent Elizabeth Jamerson insisted as recently as October 3 that the incident was isolated to the elementary school, reports surfaced just a few days later of there being cases over at least two schools within the district.

Extra staff were brought in to clean the known-to-be-infested schools, and students were sent home with scabies facts sheets (linked below) from the Virginia Department of Health. Superintendent Amy Griffin posted a cell phone video on the district website addressing parental concerns and assuring them the schools and buses would be cleaned over the next 12 weeks. She urged parents to “do their part” to prevent the spread of the disease, including practicing good hygiene and keeping any children presenting symptoms at home.

Scabies is a contagious skin infection caused by a mite that burrows into the skin. It is most often passed through prolonged (10+ minutes) contact with the skin of another person, through close living conditions and/or sex. High incidence has been reported in places such as daycare facilities and prisons (school is, arguably, both). Symptoms of scabies usually don’t present themselves until between two and six weeks after infection, so it’s safe to say more cases will be reported before all’s said and done.

Cumberland County Public Schools serves 1,364 students in grades PK, K-12 in three schools, and according to Niche, scores at a B or below for everything but diversity. Over 65% of the student population receives free or reduced lunch.

Several cases of scabies confirmed at Cumberland school

Scabies infestation spreads at Cumberland Schools

Multiple confirmed cases of scabies at Cumberland County Schools

Scabies Fact Sheet – Virginia Department of Health

HEALTH UPDATE FROM DR. AMY GRIFFIN – Cumberland County Public Schools

Cumberland County Public Schools – Virginia – Niche

Middle school students threaten to shoot teacher and her family

southwoodmiddleschoolshooter.png

A teacher is sleeping a little easier tonight now two of her students at Southwood Middle School in Palmetto Bay, Florida were arrested Sunday after they threatened, via Instagram, to kill her and her children on Valentine’s Day. The news comes as Florida mourns the anniversary of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting.

 

The victim, a 36-year-old teacher who by many accounts is beloved by her students, was told “You and your children are next on Valentine’s Day for making my life I’m finna kill all yo family and shoot up yo bitch ass school.”  They also brought to her attention a picture of her infant daughter. The woman, fearing for her life and that of her family, contacted police, who were able to trace the bogus social media account account (appropriately-named, and very indicative of the young children who created it, “Southwood School Shooter”) and arrest a 13-year-old child, who then implicated his 12-year-old friend as an accomplice. Both boys confessed and were charged with Aggravated Stalking and Written Threats To Kill or do Bodily Injury and taken to the Juvenile Assessment Center.

Miami-Dade County Public Schools issued the following statement through their Superintendent, Alberto Carvalho:

“Recent arrests of students for hoax social media threats demonstrate clearly and unequivocally that Miami-Dade County Public Schools has a zero-tolerance policy related to this type of activity. Parents and students must understand that any threat – real or fabricated – to schools and students is a serious matter. It is unacceptable and those involved in such activity will be prosecuted. Prank and hoax threats made against a school are counterproductive to the life-saving work of law enforcement and compromise the safety of everyone.”

Televised interviews show parents who seem content to believe that the district has done enough to keep their children safe, and that they do an adequate job of communicating all of the potential threats in their schools to families. Some believe it’s not that serious because it’s “most likely” just a hoax, anyway.

DCPS states they’ve received 60 threats to their schools in 2019, and 12 of them have resulted in arrests.

Southwood Middle School is the site of a fatal stabbing that took place in 2004, when Michael Hernandez murdered classmate Jaime Gough, earning him a life sentence. Both victim and perpetrator were 14.

Today, the school boasts a positive report on GoodSchools.Org, with above average test scores in the state for both reading and math, as well as a decent representation of ethnicities among the student population. Southwood serves approximately 1500 students in grades 6 through 8.

2 Southwood Middle School students accused of threatening to shoot teacher

Two Southwood Middle School Students Arrested For Threatening To Shoot Up School, Kill Teacher

Southwood Middle Students Threaten to Kill Teacher on Valentine’s Day

Press Release – Hoax Threat to M-DCPS School Results in Arrests

‘You and your children are next on Valentine’s Day.’ Boys threaten teacher, police say.

(2016 article) Student who stabbed classmate to death at Southwood Middle returns to court for sentencing

Southwood Middle School Center for the Arts

GreatSchools.Org – Southwood Middle School

Middle school displays racially insensitive images, teachers

190210-noose-classroom-sign-cs-234p_175183cf3bbbed5f5156542b3c148737.fit-560w.jpg
photo courtesy of Arthur L. Mackey Jr.

Roosevelt Union Free School District in Long Island, New York is facing some intense scrutiny from parents and professionals alike after it came to light that teachers at Roosevelt Middle School included pictures of nooses in a collage, which referred to them as “back to school necklaces.” The hashtags “Yes” and “Ha-ha” were also to be seen on the collage, near the pictures.

In what is being referred to as a “personnel matter,” the district insists it is investigating, but will not comment further on the actions it will take to rectify the problem. Meanwhile, students continue to attend a school where teachers make light of the struggles their ancestors have endured. If we can put racism aside (and really, in a situation like this, how can we?), when is it ever okay to have pictures of nooses in a middle school, especially with the words “ha-ha” anywhere near them?

The truth is, the school and district may never have noticed the college or its offensive material, had it not been for an unnamed teacher bringing it up with pastor Andrew L. Mackey, Jr. of Mount Sinai Baptist Church Cathedral in Roosevelt. He publicized the image and issued a call to action. It’s good to see someone standing up for the children in this school.

The school serves nearly 300 students in grades 6 and 7, almost all of whom identify as minorities. The principal himself is African American. Greatschools reports that test scores in both reading and math fall well below the state average, and the school’s homepage shows student notices are published in both English and Spanish. This is obviously a low performing school whose students may ultimately choose not to attend, if they feel threatened or marginalized.

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“important message” on Roosevelt Middle School’s homepage

A video on the school’s website (linked below) shows a local news station’s recent profile of the school, and the positive sentiments expressed about the school’s future. Perhaps academically it could improve, if given a more positive atmosphere. Still, one needs to laugh, or else they might cry, at hearing the reporter stress that the school focuses also on “social and emotional learning.”

Noose photos labeled ‘back to school necklaces’ by middle school teachers outrage parents

Noose photo displayed in New York classroom draws action from school district

Classroom Collage With Nooses Labeled ‘Back to School Necklaces’ Roils NY District

Roosevelt UFSD – Roosevelt Middle School

Roosevelt Renaissance (video)- CBS News

GreatSchools.Org – Roosevelt Middle School

 

Middle school assault over snitching

boycry
image courtesy @kj2018 on UnSplash

Frederick County Public School District in Frederick, Maryland, is investigating an alleged middle school assault at Urbana Middle School on Wednesday that was captured on a cell phone camera after the victim was accused of “snitching” on another student who had brought a type of electronic cigarette to class.

The video appears to show the victim being accosted somewhere outside the school, and after running away, and then apologizing, being attacked to the approval of an excited mob of students. He is also shown, and heard, begging for mercy, as the camera continues to roll. While FCPS insists it was made aware of the assault “almost immediately,” one wonders what the character education in Urbana Middle School includes, if no student is purported to have attempted to help the student who was attacked. And while the video provides impressive evidence against the attackers, the culture of “watch, don’t act,” is not only alive and well in junior high, but seems to be enabled. Of course, the spokesman for FCPS stressed that this was not the case: “Anytime an incident like this happens, school administrators and law enforcement work hard to determine the cause of the incident, but the most important thing to us is that violence of any kind is simply unacceptable, so regardless of the exact precipitating events, we want to help our students find productive and safe ways to deal with events at school.”

Drawing parallels between public school and prison is a simple task, indeed. When do the majority of prison assaults occur? When authority figures’ backs are turned. What happens during the assault? Do fellow prisoners come to the victim’s aid? Or, if they were afforded the use of a cell phone camera, might the same thing happen that occurred on the grounds of Urbana Middle School?

Disciplinary actions were taken by the school, but FCPS declined to disclose what those actions were. The assault is also being investigated by local law enforcement.

FCPS spokesman Michael Doerrer said a lot of things were up in the air, but he did affirm, “What I do know for sure is that the school is safe.” Is it?

Urbana Middle School in Ijamsville, Maryland, serves approximately 1000 students in Frederick County, and lists two of its core values as “demonstrating empathy, caring, and respect for all,” and “Creating and maintaining a safe school climate.

Assault leads to disciplinary action, investigation of Urbana Middle School students

Frederick County Public Schools – Urbana Middle Schoool

Teachers strike in Los Angeles, citing low pay

 

Los Angeles students are still coming to school today, but they’re being met with unfamiliar faces as substitute teachers step in to fill the gap left by 28,000 striking teachers, who are of course “doing it for the students.”

The dispute is over (what else?) a demanded 6.5% pay raise – teachers insist the district has the money to burn, and want the raise immediately (Friday they rejected an offer from the school district giving them a 6% raise over 2 years). They’re also wanting smaller class sizes and “fully staffed” schools, which include more nurses, librarians, and counselors. The district said meeting every demand would put them more than half a billion dollars in the red.

So in essence, teachers (or, rather, their union bosses, who of course “only have the interests of them and their children at heart) are wanting greater compensation (which means greater union dues) for less work.

Never mind that teaching degrees constitute some of the easiest-earned degrees in the nation, and education students collectively have the lowest SAT scores among matriculating freshmen. GPAs for education majors are nearly a full point higher than those studying math or science. Countless undergraduates joke that if they can’t cut in their challenging classes, they “could always just major in education.”

Don’t tell me teachers weren’t aware they may not receive astronomical salaries, when they were back in college. Don’t tell me they “did it for the children;” how many of us had teachers that “just didn’t care” and were literally counting the minutes until school let out for the day, or the year (or until retirement)? If they really had children’s interests in mind, would they be refusing to come into work, forcing their charges to spend the days on the streets, in front of the television, or in a classroom with a clueless substitute?

The average teacher salary in Los Angeles Unified School District is $75,000. This doesn’t take into account the 3 months’ vacation they get every year, or the excellent benefits package, including retirement benefits that put most other jobs to shame.

The school district serves approximately 640,000 students.

LA Teachers Go On Strike For First Time In 30 Years

CITY RESOURCES AVAILABLE TO FAMILIES DURING THE EVENT OF A STRIKE

Here’s The Nation’s Easiest College Major

Photos: Thousands of L.A. Teachers March on Strike