The Oklahoma teacher who is accused of calling a student’s “Black King” t-shirt racist has been placed on paid administrative leave. According to local outlet KFOR, Edmond Public School District officials met with the teacher on Thursday (Feb. 25) about the incident, but have not revealed whether or not any disciplinary action will be taken.
“Edmond Public Schools district administrators met this afternoon… with a Heartland Middle School teacher at the center of a complaint,” the school district’s director of communications, Susan Parks-Schlepp, said in a statement. “The district recognizes the public’s desire for a quick resolution to this issue. However, it’s important to note that employees have fundamental rights to ensure fairness when they are the subject of a complaint. Those rights include an option for the teacher to respond to and contest any recommended disciplinary action.”
“As such, the district cannot, at this time, divulge any further details about the outcome of today’s meeting,” she added.
The story surrounding 13-year-old student Latrell Taft’s t-shirt broke earlier this week. According to the 7th grader, his teacher abruptly stopped class to chastise his “Black King” t-shirt, which he received as a birthday present. The t-shirt included an outline of Africa and the teacher allegedly called it “racist.”
“She said that if she had a shirt that said white queen it would have been racist,” Taft said, as reported by REVOLT. “Then after that, she said we need a white history month. I said Black people don’t have enough recognition and we barely learn about Black people in February at my school.”
Taft added that most of his classmates agreed with the teacher, which made him feel “embarrassed.” His mother, Melisa Shirley, called Heartland Middle School after learning about the incident, but said her concerns weren’t taken seriously. The district later released a statement saying the exchange was under investigation.
“Edmond Public Schools is aware of an incident in a classroom at Heartland Middle School involving a district employee and a seventh-grade student who wore a t-shirt featuring an outline of Africa and the words ‘Black King’ written on the front,” it said.
“If it is determined that the student was the target of discrimination, bullying, or racism, appropriate and swift action will be taken as required by district policy.”