KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Kansas City civil rights organizations and others are demanding change following an incident at a Kansas City charter school last month.
High school students at University Academy recorded a teacher saying the “n” word during class in early November. FOX4 has seen the video in which the teacher can be heard saying, “just like African Americans call themselves n****.”
The teacher followed up by saying he used the word in an educational context saying, “It was said for the purpose of talking about empowerment.” The teacher is currently on administrative leave pending an investigation.
“He wasn’t educating us on anything. He was kind of explaining his opinion on a situation,” said Aidan Smith, a senior at University Academy.
He had the teacher in his fifth period and said the subject got brought up after the teacher said the word earlier that day. Smith believes the original discussion had to do with a rap artist, not with anything in the curriculum.
“I know you don’t have to say that word in the classroom. Doesn’t matter the context, doesn’t matter what you’re teaching. I’m Black and I wouldn’t say that in my classroom,” said Jacquada Gray, a 2011 graduate of University Academy.
Gray is also Smith’s older sister and learned about the incident from him. In the weeks since, she’s worked with other alumni who have a list of demands they want the school to implement. First, that the teacher is fired, stripped of his certification, and never allowed back. Next, that he’s denied pay while on administrative leave.
They also want the school to create a diversity inclusion task force, as well as more diverse staff, anti-racism training for staff, and two-yearly town hall meetings for issues to be addressed.
“We’re also now asking that they look into how the situation was handled. We want them to kind of investigate the investigation, look into that upper school office and see why it took so long. We’re interested to see how they move forward and what they do from here,” Gray said.
The Urban League of Greater Kansas City, which helped organize Wednesday’s town hall, said it’s spoken with the superintendent about the situation. They said they will continue to address the school board at a policy level, follow through with them, and continue to push for change.
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