UPDATE: Edmond Public Schools rep will not comment on if teacher disciplined for allegedly calling student’s ‘Black King’ T-shirt racist

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UPDATE (8:15 p.m.): Edmond Public Schools officials said they have met with the teacher accused of calling a student’s ‘Black King’ T-shirt racist, but will not divulge details about the outcome of the meeting.

Susan Parks-Schlepp, Director of Communications for the school district, would not comment to KFOR on whether disciplinary action was taken against the Heartland Middle School teacher, but said that the teacher remains on paid administrative leave.

Parks-Schlepp’s full statement is as follows:

“Edmond Public Schools district administrators met this afternoon, Thursday, Feb. 25, with a Heartland Middle School teacher at the center of a complaint.  

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.”

SUSAN PARKS-SCHLEPP, DIRECTOR OF COMMUNICATIONS, EDMOND PUBLIC SCHOOLS

UPDATE: Edmond Public Schools officials placed the teacher who allegedly singled out a student for wearing a “Black King” T-shirt – allegedly saying the shirt was racist – on paid administrative leave as they continue reviewing the situation.

School district officials are meeting with the teacher to discuss her alleged actions toward 13-year-old Latrell Taft.

Susan Parks-Schlepp, Director of Communications for the district, released the following statement:

“We know the public is eager to learn the outcome of an investigation into an incident at Heartland Middle School in Edmond involving a teacher and a student who wore a t-shirt featuring the words ‘Black King’ written on the front.

The teacher has been placed on paid administrative leave pending a decision on disciplinary action.

This afternoon, district leadership is meeting with the teacher. A decision on disciplinary action could be taken following this afternoon’s meeting if warranted by the facts and authorized by state law and board policy.”

SUSAN PARKS-SCHLEPP, DIRECTOR OF COMMUNICATIONS, EDMOND PUBLIC SCHOOLS

Taft spoke with KFOR on Wednesday, saying that he wore a T-shirt featuring an image of the African continent with the words “Black King” emblazoned over it. The shirt was a birthday present.

He said he was in science class at Heartland Middle School when his teacher abruptly changed the subject from the periodic table to asking what his shirt said.

“She said that if she had a shirt that said white queen it would have been racist,” Taft said. “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.”

Latrell told KFOR the majority of his class sided with the teacher, calling his shirt racist.

“I was embarrassed,” Taft said.

Read the original story below for further details.

Original Story

EDMOND, Okla. (KFOR) – A 13-year-old Edmond student says he was confused and embarrassed when his middle school teacher told him his T-shirt with ‘Black King’ emblazoned on it was racist in the middle of class.

The student and his mother sat down with KFOR.

“I am proud of my blackness and she will never take it away from me,” Latrell Taft said.

Taft says he was beyond excited to wear his new birthday present to school on Tuesday, a T-shirt proclaiming “Black King” with an outline of Africa.

“I am a king because I think I’m a king,” Taft said.

Photo goes with story
Latrell Taft

Latrell says during science class at Heartland Middle School, his teacher abruptly changed the subject from the periodic table to asking what his shirt said.

“She said that if she had a shirt that said white queen it would have been racist,” Taft said. “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.”

Latrell tells KFOR the majority of his class sided with the teacher, calling his shirt racist.

“I was embarrassed,” Taft said.

“He does have peers who look like him, but very few,” Melisa Shirley said.

Latrell’s mom, Melisa Shirley, says she immediately called the middle school.

“Initially, to be totally honest, I was brushed off,” Shirley said.

Twenty-four hours later, Edmond Public Schools released the following statement to KFOR:

“Edmond Public Schools is aware of an incident in a classroom at Heartland Middle School involving a district employee and a 7th-grade student who wore a t-shirt featuring an outline of Africa and the words ‘Black King’ written on the front.

Upon becoming aware of the incident, the school site and the district began a prompt investigation which is ongoing. District staff is also in contact with the parent of the student.

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.

Edmond Public Schools prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, sex, national origin, disability, and religion, and complies with all federal and state civil rights laws. Furthermore, the district has taken numerous steps to address discrimination in Edmond schools, including providing professional development for staff on the issue of unconscious bias and ensuring equity for all. The district administration is continuing to assess the need for more training and professional development in this important area.”

EDMOND PUBLIC SCHOOLS

“There should not be educators like this,” Shirley said. “I think she should be reprimanded.”

Photo goes with story
Latrell Taft

Meanwhile, Latrell tells KFOR he’s holding his head high and ready to wear his favorite shirt again.

“I would tell her black is beautiful,” Taft said.

Shirley says she has a meeting with the middle school principal Thursday morning.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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