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.

Middle school displays racially insensitive images, teachers

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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