EL CERRITO, Calif. (KTVU) - A East Bay middle school teacher is on administrative leave after she allegedly made racist comments about minority students.
Students and parents said the 8th grade science teacher at Summit K2 in El Cerrito allegedly called a black student the 'N-word' in class last Thursday. In a separate incident, the teacher is accused of speaking negatively about the way a Latino student sounded and looked.
On Tuesday, middle school and high school students at the public charter school staged a “sit-in” on the lawn of the campuses to call for the teacher’s firing.
“If that was me, I would feel really disrespected,” Katrina Herren, a student, said. “No student should feel the way that the student felt and the teacher shouldn’t say that at all. They should keep it professional. It’s their job.”
Student Body President Calvin Andrews said other students have also used the 'N-word' on campus in the past. He said he’s brought it to the attention of administrators who gave warnings, but said he feels more need to be done in this case.
“This is something that needs to have serious consequences,” Andrews said. “I’ve organized a “sit-in” so we can be a community and show them that we’re not going anywhere until she does.”
Some teachers are standing with the students. One of them told KTVU that hate speech is not taken seriously at Summit K2, but a spokeswoman for the public charter school said K2 has a zero-tolerance policy on inappropriate language.
The following statement was released by the school’s Executive Director Shilpa Duvoor:
"K2 has a zero-tolerance policy on inappropriate, insensitive or hateful language of any kind. The school immediately launched an investigation once it became aware of claims made by students about inappropriate language used by a teacher. The teacher in question has been put on administrative leave pending the outcome of the investigation.
Our top priority remains the physical, social and emotional well-being of all of our students. Students have to feel safe in order to thrive, and that’s why K2 prioritizes inclusiveness and cultivating a culture of respect for all cultures, ethnicities and religions. We will not stand for disrespect in any form or of any kind.
We are committed to encouraging dialogue among our students and making this a moment that we can all learn and grow from. We are confident that with open and respectful communication, we will come out stronger as a school community.
Andrews said he is frustrated with administration for not immediately firing the teacher, but said he wants her to learn from the mistake.
“I want her to really take this and learn from it,” he said.