Families sue St. Paul teacher for calling students 'fat, black and stupid'

The St. Paul Public School District and Timothy Olmsted, 6th grade teacher at the Heights Community School in St. Paul, Minnesota, are being sued by his students’ families. The lawsuit comes after students reported Olmsted’s discrimination against African-American students. The lawsuit is now moving to the federal courts.

Olmsted resigned this past spring, but the school district is still paying him through the first week of October. Parents are upset that no disciplinary action has been taken against Olmsted.

Latasha Tolbert’s daughter was a student in Olmsted’s class. Tolbert spoke to CBS and said Olmsted, “told the entire class that it is easier for him to teach rich white folks, than poor black people,” and it didn’t stop there.  He also told Tolbert’s daughter that she would be standing on the corner and begging for money one day.

Tolbert tried again and again to bring these incidents to the attention of school officials. The Star Tribune reports, in the lawsuit that was filed by parents, that Tolbert said she made 98 calls to Heights Principal Jayne Ropella about Olmsted’s behavior from September to December.

The lawsuit alleges Olmsted called black students “fat, black and stupid,” and even made black students sit in the back of his room or turn their desks to face the wall. Sixth grade, African-American student, Aylecia Ingram-Jones said she was forced to sit in the back solely because of the color of her skin.

This is not the first incident Olmsted is involved in.  He has several reprimands from the district, including being suspended for five days without pay for giving a graphic description to his class of castrating horses and throwing testicles into the field for cats to eat.  The Star Tribune reports Olmsted received another five-day suspension without pay in 2003 for giving a 6th grade student a birthday card containing sexual innuendo and making her read it to the class.

Although the lawsuit has been moved to the federal courts, the families’ lawyer, Meg Kane does not expect the case to go to trial for at least another year.

Follow Carrie Healey on Twitter @CarrieHeals.