Outrage after Texas principal jokes about calling police on special needs black student

A community is angry and demanding the resignation of an educator who told a tasteless joke about a child in her school

Shanna Swearingen
KPRC Screengrab

The principal of an elementary school outside Houston is in hot water after making a tasteless joke about a special needs student.

According to Houston’s KPRC Channel 2, Ponderosa Elementary School Principal Shanna Swearingen was talking to a group of staffers about a Black student with behavioral issues, who was known to run away from the school, when she suggested they call the police the next time he acted up.

“We won’t chase him. We will call the police and tell them he has a gun so they can come faster,” she said.

Once word of the comment spread, some parents began making demands for Swearingen to be fired or at the very least, resign.

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Others suggested the school take a page out of Starbucks’ book and send her to sensitivity training.

“It’s disgusting. That kind of comment is disgusting even if it was a joke how could you recant something like that?” parent Jessica Spoonemore said. “Children are getting killed by gun violence and that was very unnecessary and disturbing especially for an elementary school.”

“It’s probably going down racial lines whether we want it to or not,” said parent Christopher Mitchell. “I think it speaks to more of what we have going on in our country as much as it is going on at this school, but some action needs to be taken.”

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Michael Burnett, the PTA president for Ponderosa Elementary School, said the comment doesn’t fit Swearingen’s usual character and that he’s struggling to believe the incident even happened.

“The principal has been awesome,” he gushed. “She broke her back during Hurricane Harvey and worked in homes of all races.”

Despite Burnett’s disbelief, Tuesday Swearingen admitted her actions and sent a letter to parents.

“I made an insensitive comment that was not reflective of who I am nor how much I care about every student who attends this school,” she writes. “Your children mean the world to me, and I’m heartbroken that my thoughtless remark has caused disruption to the hard work underway here.”

The guardian of the child at the center of this controversy has a meeting scheduled with the school, but administrators have yet to clarify what disciplinary actions will be taken.