Missouri Substitute Teacher Escorted Off Campus, Banned from Working in District After Allegedly Threatening Black Students

Written by on 02/01/2019

A substitute teacher in Springfield, Mo., has been banned from working in the district after claims he made racist and threatening remarks aimed at two Black students.

The alleged incident unfolded Jan. 16 at Hickory Hills Elementary and Middle School, the Springfield News-Leader reported.

Substitute Teacher Banned
The unnamed substitute teacher was escorted off school premises after an administrator investigated claims that he made threatening comments to Black students. (Image courtesy of Springfield-Greene County Park Board)

Jean Hawkins said her eighth-grade son and a classmate walked into their technology class Wednesday morning, where they were met by a male substitute teacher who they had never seen before. That’s when Hawkins says the substitute teacher made troubling remarks toward the boys.

“The teacher tells them, ‘I was told to shoot you black boys. You black boys are nothing but trouble,’ ” she said “He said, ‘I’ve been told to shoot you.’ ”

Hawkins said her son was unsure how to react in the situation.

“They were just walking into class normal,” the concerned mother added, saying the boys weren’t late or doing anything that would draw attention to themselves. “[My son] looked at him (the teacher) and he couldn’t believe what he was saying. He was like, ‘Wow.’ He didn’t know if he should run.”

The two students eventually took their seats and class started without further incident. At some point, another student either asked to be excused or waited until a class change to report the incident to the front office.

Hawkins, who said she wasn’t alerted to the incident until her 14-year-old returned from school that day, said it’s unclear who blew the whistle.

Stephen Hall, chief communications officer for Springfield Public Schools, confirmed the school received a report that day about the incident, according to the newspaper. A school  administrator investigated the incident and the substituent, who remains unnamed, was escorted off the premises.

“These alleged comments are disturbing, unacceptable, and are completely at odds with who we are as a school district,” Hall said in a statement. “There’s zero tolerance for any comment like those described. SPS remains committed to ensuring that all of our students thrive in a learning environment where they feel safe, welcomed and respected.”

Taking things a step further, the district has also banned the substitute from working at any other schools in the Springfield district.

“Because of that commitment and our refusal to accept any behavior that fails to meet those standards, we can confirm that this individual was removed from the list of eligible SPS substitutes, on the same day the allegations were made, and will not return to SPS in any capacity,” Hall added.

The News-Leader noted that the district’s substitutes are actually employed by Springfield-based temp agency Penmac Education Staffing, which works to “recruit, train, evaluate and monitor a pool of eligible substitutes.”

In the wake of the incident, Penmac confirmed the substitute has been suspended from all assignments pending the outcome of an investigation.

“Penmac Education Staffing takes the allegations made against the substitute teacher who was assigned to Hickory Hills Middle School very seriously,” the firm said in a statement. “We have no tolerance for such behavior. We are cooperating fully with Springfield Public Schools in the completion of the investigation.”

Hawkins said she’s still frustrated that the school didn’t notify her of the incident, however a SPS follow-up with the school’s principal showed that the school did reach out to parents of the students involved in the incident in a timely manner, the News-Leader reported.

Hawkins has since filed a complaint with Penmac and demanded the release of the substitute’s name. It hasn’t been provided yet.

“I want something done about this,” she told the newspaper. “Maybe this man will be somewhere else. It’s just scary. I don’t even know who he is.”

Source: Atlanta Black Star

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