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Teacher who said her classroom is ‘built for nonwhite students’ placed on leave

desks, classroom
Unsplash/MChe Lee

A fourth-grade public school teacher in Utah was placed on paid leave weeks after posting a video to social media saying her classroom was "built for nonwhite students" and criticizing "posh white parents."  

The Granite School District released a statement to the media saying that the teacher's comments "are very disconcerting and she has been placed on leave while the district investigates the matter."

"It would be in violation of our district policies and state board rule to teach anything other than the approved curriculum and standards or to discriminate against any student," the statement reads.

"As soon as our investigation is complete, we anticipate taking appropriate corrective action. We know that our role as educators is to support parents and the families we serve and we value our parents and their engagement in our schools and classrooms."

Last week, a Twitter handle "Eye on the Classroom" posted a video of an unnamed teacher at William Penn Elementary School of Salt Lake City talking about how "for the first time in my life, I am going to be teaching at a majority white school."

"And I am kind of interested to see how students and parents react to my classroom or if they even notice anything about it, because its built for nonwhite students," she continued.

"What I mean by that is like if you look around and you interact with some of the materials I have, you'll notice that there's like no white kids represented … not a single white face there."

She said her classroom would have "a big stack of coloring pages that students can use," which will also have no white people on it. The only Disney princess she had in the classroom were "Mulan and Moana" because they are her favorites and "coincidentally they are not white."

While admitting that the classroom library would include books by "straight cis-white men," she added that this group would be "overpowered now from" new books she added that "depict a lot of diverse peoples." These included characters and authors who are racial minorities or members of the LGBT community, saying she wanted to go against "the status quo."

"I feel like some parents might have something to say about that," she continued, "if my experience with posh white parents in the past holds true for this year."

According to the school district, the video is allegedly several weeks old.

The video went viral, igniting controversy on social media and elsewhere, as well as receiving coverage in news outlets including Fox News and The Blaze.   

As the school district investigates, the classes of the teacher are being covered by substitutes and other grade-level teachers, according to Deseret News

The video also comes amid much national debate and scrutiny about the way racial issues are being discussed and taught in school, with many parents believing that elements of critical race theory are incorporated in the classrooms. 

"News stories like this are sad. There are so many amazing teachers. Yet all the focus is on teachers who are abusing their positions of trust," Utah Parents United, a nonprofit organization dedicated to protecting the "parent-child relationship in law and education," stated in a tweet. "As parents we know who the 'good' teachers are. We are so grateful for them."

There is no indication of how much time the school district's investigation will take. 

According to the school district's website, "teachers should register any social media account they are using in an official capacity with the District Communications Department ... and adhere to the district's social media policies."

Follow Michael Gryboski on Twitter or Facebook

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