Minnesota Superintendent Promises ‘Aggressive Action’ After Middle School Teacher Filmed Using Racist Language

Illustration for article titled Minnesota Superintendent Promises ‘Aggressive Action’ After Middle School Teacher Filmed Using Racist Language
Photo: EdwardShackleford/iStock

Wendy Brilowski, a teacher at Highland Park Middle School, in Minnesota, has been placed on leave after video showed her hurling racial slurs at students. Saint Paul Public Schools Superintendent Joe Gothard has vowed to take appropriate action after footage was posted online and went viral.

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Brandy Coleman, the mother of one of the students, told NBC-affiliate KARE that the video shows the culmination of long-standing tensions between Brilowski and students of color. According to her daughter, the teacher had previously referred to her and other black students derogatorily.

“It breaks my heart that I didn’t know the magnitude of the situation so that I could intervene before that video,” Coleman said.

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Brilowski can be heard saying ” f[uckin]g n[igger]s” in the bleeped out video, which the district verified as being authentic, according to NBC News. Another staff member tried to excuse the racist language claiming to the students, “she’s repeating what you’re saying,” but the video clip does not show any students speaking prior to the teacher’s comments.

“No matter the situation, the racist and foul language used by a staff member in the video has no place in Saint Paul Public Schools,” a statement from Superintendent Joe Gothard read.

His full written statement:

I am writing to address a disturbing video taken at Highland Park Middle that was shared on social media. No matter the situation, the racist and foul language used by a staff member in the video has no place in Saint Paul Public Schools.

The staff member is currently on administrative leave – which is standard practice – pending the outcome of a district review.

We will work to understand what happened and take immediate, aggressive action to address this situation.

Highland Park Middle School strives to provide a safe, respectful and welcoming environment for every single child — and as educators, we must be held to the highest possible standard.

The words and actions recorded in this video have caused harm to our Black students, their families and our entire school community. These actions go against Saint Paul Public Schools core values and its commitment to serving youth and families.

We will not be silent in the face of racist language in our schools — and we cannot perpetuate it. We will not make excuses for actions that hurt the students that we as educators have dedicated our lives to serve.

Following this incident, we have a lot of work to do to repair harm and rebuild trust with our students and our community. We take that responsibility seriously. We offer a sincere apology for the actions that took place in our building on Wednesday.

Thank you for supporting your child and Saint Paul Public Schools.

News of this incident comes as more proof of dangerous racists, white nationalists, white supremacists, or whatever other names they carry, within school systems. Some have remained relatively quiet while others have grown bold in their hatred.

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From teachers and principals laughing with nooses to a bus driver dragging a bi-racial child from his bus, these instances of hate are disturbing, disgusting, and must be stopped before its too late for our children and our society. It’s not simply about keeping “racist language” out of schools; it’s about eliminating their racist ideology from our schools altogether, from curriculum choices to proper diversity in staffing, and beyond.

You can see some of the disturbing video proof below:

 

 

 

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DISCUSSION

biturbowagon
Biturbowagon

From teachers and principals laughing with nooses, to a bus driver dragging a bi-racial child from his bus, these instances of hate are disturbing, disgusting, and must be stopped before its too late for our children and our society. It’s not simply about keeping “racist language” out of schools; it’s about eliminating their racist ideology from our schools altogether, from curriculum choices, to proper diversity in staffing, and beyond.

Yes.

That said, I do have a somewhat-rhetorical question: how much of what we are witnessing is an uptick in openness by racists/white supremacists/bigots in recent years; and how much is effective documentation through the use of new tools such as smartphones, that can be widely disseminated via social media, that cannot be effectively swept under the rug or deprecated by “he said/she said”-type arguments?

That is to say, how much of what we are seeing is an increase in the incidents; and how much is that we have more effective, better distributed, and irrefutable documentation of the incidents?

Both, I’m sure, but I’d love to learn more.