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Teacher resigns from Winterville Charter Academy after “racially insensitive lesson”

Published: Oct. 6, 2021 at 11:29 AM EDT
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GREENVILLE, N.C. (WITN) - A charter school in the east is under fire for a racially charged school lesson that resulted in a teacher’s resignation and alleged bullying by other students.

WITN began investigating what happened at the school after receiving calls and social media questions about the lesson.

Winterville Charter Academy parents that WITN spoke with Wednesday described their children being singled out by the teacher in a lesson about the U.S. Constitution.

“She had them raise their hand during a constitutional lesson and reminded them that if it wasn’t for the Constitution, they would be her slaves. Her field slaves,” said Kanisha Tillman, whose child was in the classroom.

Winterville Charter Academy Principal Annastasia Ryan sent a memo out to 8th-grade parents on September 24th admitting there was a “racially insensitive lesson” at the school and that action was taken.

“On Monday evening, it was brought to the attention of school administration that a racially insensitive lesson regarding the importance of the Constitution of the United States was carried out during an English lesson on Constitution Day,” the memo reads.

The memo adds that two “racially insensitive words” were reportedly used by multiple children in the classroom “without appropriate redirection along with inappropriate response from the educator.”

The school told those 8th grade parents an investigation was conducted and that “the teacher was supported in turning in her resignation and will not be returning on campus.”

“Culturally sensitive training for the teacher that resigned will be provided, along with proactive training measures for our current and future staff members,” the memo said.

On October 5th, Ryan sent out another memo, this time to all families at the school, addressing social media posts that were garnering angry reaction to what happened.

“As soon as we were made aware of each incident, we immediately took action. The result was a teacher resignation and the children involved being disciplined in accordance with our Parent and student handbook,” Ryan wrote in part. “These situations concern us, too. Our school culture is built on one of acceptance, love, and respect to serve all children and their families. The inner workings of our school are surrounded by intentional effort to eliminate implicit and explicit bias.

She also said that another recent situation of a racially insensitive student remark is being investigated.

After reaching out to the school, WITN received a statement from National Heritage Academies, a charter school management company that oversees 90+ schools across the country including Winterville Charter Academy: “The school leadership team acted immediately upon learning about a racially insensitive lesson and student remarks, and is currently working to address ongoing concerns from parents that racially insensitive student remarks continue. While student and staff privacy rights prevent me from sharing specific details, what I can share is that we will not tolerate racism in our school community and will continue taking swift action that addresses these issues.”

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