Teacher Resigns After Racist Rant Was Recorded
A California teacher is resigning after a racist rant she went on that stereotyped Black families was recorded by a parent during a Zoom call.
According to the parent, Katura Stokes’ attorneys, Kimberly Newman, a sixth-grade science teacher at Desert Willow Fine Arts, Science and Technology Magnet Academy, made an offensive comment about Black families after the call about Stokes’ son struggling with remote learning.
“She drafted and sent an email to [Stokes’ son’s] fellow teachers (and administrators), in which she repeatedly mocked and denigrated Ms. Stokes,” the claim says, adding that Stokes recorded the Zoom screen.
“She then says to her husband, ‘The family is a piece of s**t, they are Black, they are Black.’ She goes on to say that [the student] has learned to lie to everyone and make excuses and that “This is what Black people do.’ The video is littered with racist remarks about [the student] and Ms. Stokes,” the claim continues, according to PEOPLE.
The January 20 Zoom call was arranged in order to help Stokes’ son adapt to a new learning environment. The boy and the teacher completed several assignments together, but once the call was over, Newman continued to talk for over a half hour, making the racist statements unaware Stokes could still hear her.
According to the claim, Newman also insulted Stokes’ parenting, saying: “She’s answered her phone for the first time this entire year. I mean these parents, that’s what kind of piece of s**t they are,” the The Washington Post reports.
Newman eventually left the call after an employee who’d been alerted by Stokes called Newman and asked if she’d made the alleged comments. She denied having done so.
Palmdale School District spokesman David Garcia told the Post that Newman was promptly suspended and then resigned shortly afterward.
“We do not stomach racist behavior at the Palmdale School District, whether you are caught on video or not,” he said, adding Newman failed to cooperate with an investigation.
Additionally, Garcia told the The Los Angeles Times the district has “no room for racial comments or discrimination,” and that school officials are “on the same side” as Stokes.
“They are so disappointed and in disbelief over the fact that this is still happening in this day and age. Ms. Stokes was asking for help and in response, she gets a racist rant and unbeknown to her, her son is listening to a lot of it,” family attorney Neil K. Gehlawat told the Times. “There’s this teacher that he looked up to saying these awful things. It’s just so hurtful and difficult for him to process.”
Aside from seeking improved racial sensitivity training among employees in the district where enrollment is 75 percent Latino and 15 percent Black, the family has filed a pre-suit claim to the school district for monetary compensation for emotional distress, defamation, negligence and discrimination, CNN reports.
“They need to look into whether other students under this teacher were getting a fair shake,” Gehlawat said to the Times. “Other Black parents must wonder, ‘Are they saying the same things about my kid behind our backs?'”