A Canadian school board has launched an investigation after a white substitute teacher made an offensive post on Instagram mocking the hair of a black student.
The Peel District School Board was notified of the racist post after a concerned community member posted about it on Twitter.
“Hi @PeelSchools,” Twitter user @giaper wrote. “[P]lease be informed that a grade school teacher with your district is 1) openly mocking her students’ appearance and posting photos of them on social media 2) tagging the location of the school on her Instagram, putting them in danger.”
This was followed up by a tweet that read: “This is not the kind of behaviour I expect from educators. This is so embarrassing and honestly fully racist. There are dozens, if not hundreds, of qualified teachers who are waiting for teaching positions, and this is who our children learn from?”
The indignation was righteous and warranted.
In the now-deleted post, a picture of Marlon Wayans as his character Loc Dog from the 1996 film Don’t Be a Menace to South Central While Drinking Your Juice in the Hood—his hair in plaits sticking out in various directions on his head—was placed next to the picture of a small black child whose hair was in similar plaits with the caption, “Who rocked it better?? LOLOLOL.”
According to the Toronto City News, the teacher has been relieved of her duties and banned from any contact with students and teachers as an investigation into the post is conducted. The school board has reached out to the student’s parents, and as the board tweeted, the post is “being investigated as anti-Black racism and being taken seriously.”
Carla Pereira, a spokesperson for the Peel District School Board, told City News that the Instagram post was brought to their attention over the weekend and an investigation by the school’s superintendent of education was launched on Saturday.
Pereira called the teacher’s behavior “simply unacceptable” and said, “You’d be hard-pressed to look at that particular image and say that it’s not a post that would be considered racism.
“You look at it, you look at the use of black stereotypes and you look at how the child is being compared to another individual in not a very nice way. I think you’d be very hard-pressed to say that it’s not anti-black racism—even though that’s what we’re hearing from some members of the community who are saying it’s just a joke it’s really not racist,” she said.
Pereira said that there is no word on how long the investigation will take or what the outcome will be, but the board is taking it very seriously.
The school board does have social media guidelines for its teachers that state: “The Supreme Court of Canada has ruled that teachers’ off-duty conduct, even when not directly related to students, is relevant to their suitability to teach. As such, staff should use sound judgment and due care when using social media while on and off duty.”
Disciplinary action could range from a verbal reprimand to sensitivity training to termination, according to the school board.
Good to see that they did not waste any time and took immediate action.
It is never OK to post pictures mocking any child, especially one that is not your own.