A Black mother in San Marcos, Texas filed a formal complaint to her daughter’s school district after a teacher told her class it was ok for white people to say the N-word. KXAN reports that Tasha Fennell, the girl’s mother, brought up the issue at a San Marcos Consolidated Independent School District board meeting on Monday night (March 8).
The incident occurred when Fennell’s daughter, Azariah, heard a student using the racial slur in class. Azariah, who is the only Black student in her class, told her mother that her teacher said white people can say the N-word since Black people also use it.
“I just don’t feel like it was her place to make the decision to say that in front of impressionable kids,” Fennell said Monday.
According to the complaint, “a male student” at Doris Miller Jr. High School “interrupt[ed] the class by opening the door and say[ing], ‘What’s up my n***a?’”
Another student responded with, “Hey what’s up.” A third student intervened and said, “Dude, you can’t say that word,” which is when the teacher became involved.
“If Black people can say it then white people can say it, too,” the teacher said, according to the complaint.
Fennell said Monday that her daughter cried when telling her about the incident.
“My biggest concern is that my daughter has a voice,” Fennell said. “Azariah said what she said and this is how she felt.”
Her daughter added, “How it makes me feel… I don’t want someone else to go through the feeling that I had to go through.”
Fennell says her first complaint about the incident, which she filed in January, was met with doubt from the school about Azariah’s story. After weeks of communication, Fennell asked the department to apologize for the incident and launch new unconscious bias or cultural responsiveness training.
“At this point, we’re just looking for respect, acknowledgment and for the uncomfortable conversations to be had,” she said Monday.
The district has agreed to instill new training and asked Azariah to serve on a monthly leadership council. Her mother has also been asked to join a diversity council, which will launch in August.
“It will be communicated to Azariah that the Miller community understands the importance of equity and the goal is to be more sensitive to the topic and utilize the experience as a teachable moment in the future,” a statement from the school read.
“Azariah and her friends were discussing the Black Lives Matter movement when the incident occurred. The timing of the discussion may not have been appropriate, but the nature of the conversation is relevant to Azariah’s cultural background and could be acknowledged,” it continued. “Principal Jessie Gipprich Martin will pull Azariah during the school day and speak to her about the incident and how it made her feel.”
The district said it has launched an investigation into the incident.