KENT, Wash. — A teacher at River Ridge Elementary School is facing allegations of racism and discrimination.
A third-grade student at the school says a teacher called her “ratchet” and “ghetto” during recess, when the teacher thought she was fighting with a classmate. KIRO 7 is not naming the teacher at this time.
“She thought we were arguing and then she called me ratchet and foolish and ghetto. And she told me to shut my mouth,” says Na’Laya, the student. “It made me feel shocked and very sad.”
Na’Laya’s family says another teacher saw the interaction and reported the incident.
“A recess teacher was there and heard her say those words. She’s the one that reported the issue. So it’s not just a kid’s word against the teacher’s,” says Na’Laya’s aunt, Victoria Glover.
She says the school’s principal later called to apologize for the incident.
“She’s just saying how sorry she is. How she can’t control what people say,” says Glover.
Glover and Na’Laya’s mother say they filed complaints following the incident, believing it to be racist and discriminatory. Glover provided emails to KIRO 7, in which Kent School District administrators confirm that they are investigating the incident.
“I wanted to confirm with you that this is being actively investigated as a formal complaint under our Non-Discrimination Policy and Procedure,” wrote Interim Chief Randy Heath.
Glover says the family has heard little about the investigation since the alleged incident on April 27, but believes the teacher continued to teach. So, Glover organized a protest outside the school, calling for the teacher to be fired. She says the school was notified of her plans.
A day before the protest, River Ridge Elementary School Principal, Kendra Pratchett sent a letter to parents and staff. She wrote, “I would like to inform you of a decision to place a teacher on administrative leave. At this time, we cannot name the member of staff.”
The letter continues, “Let’s be the example and refrain from speculation to help stop the spread of rumors. It is important we remember to set an example for our students and children in our response.”
KIRO 7 contacted the district multiple times to verify the statements made by Na’Laya and her family, and inquire about the investigation.
The district’s communication director, Faith Sisley, confirmed that while a teacher was placed on leave, she would not confirm that it was the second-grade teacher referred to in this article. Sisley tells KIRO 7 of the need ‘’to respect the privacy of those involved.’’
“We don’t want her just put on leave,” says Glover. “I would be concerned about any child in her classroom.”
During the protest, Glover says other students came up to her to share their stories about issues with this teacher. Glover believes other students were also targeted by the teacher because of their skin color.
“How many reports have you got on this teacher that you guys just swept under the rug?”
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