A white Ohio teacher who made a racist remark towards her Black middle school student is being put on leave.
Earlier last month, Renee Thole reportedly told her student Nathan, “If you don’t get back on task, your friends are going to form an angry mob and lynch you.” When the 13-year-old student called her out on the remark, she walked over to apologize saying that she didn’t mean the way it came out.
Nathan was scared he’d get in trouble for talking back to the teacher, so he waited a couple of days before he told his mother, Tanisha Agee-Bell about the incident. She was immediately outraged and confronted the teacher. When Agee-Bell asked Thole about the incident, her only excuse was that she was frustrated.
“I told her, ‘Next time you’re frustrated are you going to call her a n*gger?'” Agee-Bell told Cincinatti.com.
Dissatisfied with the conversation, Agee-Bell moved to speak to the school board but called the school district’s response “flippant” and said she believed that their community felt indifferent to racial tensions.
“She shouldn’t be in a classroom at all,” Agee-Bell said to WLWT. “I’m not saying she should never go back in the classroom but until she can demonstrate that she understands the impact of the language that she used, and what she did can have, has had on my son … then she doesn’t need to be in the classroom.”
On Saturday, the school board released a statement on its Facebook page saying the teacher was formally reprimanded and placed on leave. The district will also require their personnel to undergo diversity training.
“There’s no explanation or defense that would make such a comment appropriate in any setting,” Superintendent Gail Kist-Kline said in a statement on the district’s Facebook page. “It was wrong. Racism is real in America, and we all have an obligation to fight it.”
Since the incident, Thole has also formally apologized to the class and Nathan has been removed from Thole’s Social Studies class.