When Jabre White’s teacher told the class to go downstairs to take their economics final, Jabre says he politely responded with a “Yes, sir.”
That was when the Roosevelt High School senior from Des Moines, Iowa, was met with, “You meant to say, ‘Yes, sir, master,’ ” from the teacher, Shawn McCurtain, the Des Moines Register reports.
The off-key comment shocked the 17-year-old, who was quick to retort, “Who the f–k are you talking to? You’re nobody’s master, and this is not the slave days. If you thought it was funny, it’s not.”
According to the newspaper, emails forwarded by Jabre’s mother, Nicholle White, showed that the school’s vice principal, Joseph Blazevich, investigated the incident and confirmed that the mid-May exchange did indeed happen.
Blazevich wrote in those emails, according to the news site, that it was a “terrible” and “shameful” occurrence, saying that McCurtain “was very remorseful,” but there was no hint as to what action was being taken against the teacher. The principal said that was because district personnel matters were confidential under state law.
But White takes issue with that and wants to know what is to be done about McCurtain. She fears that the matter was handled too lightly, the news site notes. She also wants him to go through diversity training—even if he’s already been through a program.
“I have tried to be humble,” she told the Des Moines Register, when asked about her interactions with the school. “But I also feel I need to express as a mother, and as a black woman, how I feel.”
White said that McCurtain called her to apologize, saying that he meant it as a joke, but she did not find him particularly convincing.
Jabre told the Des Moines Register that he’s had issues with McCurtain from the very beginning of his time at the school, as a freshman.
“It’d be something small,” the Iowa State University-bound teen said. “Like, ‘Mr. McCurtain, can I get a pencil?’ [and he’d say] ‘Well, it’s not my fault you didn’t go get a pencil; you should have brought your own pencil.’ “