Teacher’s remark was unacceptable

This article was originally published in The Notebook. In August 2020, The Notebook became Chalkbeat Philadelphia.

To the editors:

I am a parent whose 13-year-old child is a seventh-grade student at Morrison Elementary School. In mid-November, while awaiting a school bus for a school trip, she was standing in front of the main doors. The trip chaperone was nearby.

My daughter and her friends were laughing and joking when the teacher turned around, singled out my daughter, and told her, "If you think something is funny now, wait until we get to the zoo and I pull your weave out in front of the monkeys." My daughter, who is African American, was extremely upset. She reported this to two teachers, and no one paid attention.

The comment was inappropriate, rude, stereotypical, ignorant, degrading, embarrassing, and racial. This came in front of a chaperone and fellow classmates. No child should have to go to school and hear this crap from a teacher.

The School District has the "zero tolerance, no excuses," revised Code of Conduct this year. Can someone tell me where the teachers fall in here? The school will tolerate inappropriate adult responses in or around school. But teachers will not tolerate anything from the child, who faces the threat of being transferred, suspended, and possibly sent to an alternative disciplinary school.

The teacher apologized to my daughter. The apology came only after I went to the school and after the teacher was confronted by her boss. The principal made arrangements for the teacher to call me. She has yet to do so and is now apparently on leave.

I was told the incident would be noted in the teacher’s file. I’m still not satisfied. If my daughter had said anything of the sort, she would have been suspended on a Level 2.

I will not stand for this, and I hope I speak for all parents.

Brenda Singleton
parent, Morrison Elementary School

Editors’ Note: The School District reports that a investigation on the matter is pending and has been delayed due to the teacher’s taking a planned personal leave of absence.