Teacher Forced to Resign for Pulling a Black Student’s Hair

South Atlanta high school thegro.com
(Ian Waldie/Getty Images)

A white teacher in South Carolina who climbed on a desk and yanked a black student’s dreadlocks has handed in her notice after a viral video caused outrage and sparked an investigation.

Lisa Houston taught math at Palmetto High School and was caught in Snapchat video standing on top of a student’s desk and hovering over him while pulling his hair forcefully to wake him up after he fell asleep in her class, the HuffPost reports.

The 27-year-old also tapped his face, turned his head and pushed the bottom of her foot into the student’s chest. Houston has now resigned but defended her actions by saying it was a lighthearted way to wake him up.

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“If you ask any kid I’ve taught, they’ll tell you I kid around with them, make them stay awake and laugh with them,” Houston said.

“I know the video looks bad. If you don’t know the situation, you don’t know what’s going on, but it was not a malicious act. It was all in fun. I want the public to know that I love the student, and that our rapport with each other was great. I would have never done anything to hurt him.”

The Anderson School District released this statement, saying that an investigation is underway.

“The district wishes our community to know that the school administration immediately conducted an inquiry into what occurred,” Jane Harrison, an assistant superintendent for the school district, said in a written statement.

“The individual has already separated as an Anderson 1 teacher. Although the district is unable to comment in detail about the matter, the administration took seriously what occurred, and the teacher, who has had an exemplary record of teaching performance, decided of her own accord that she would retire in the best interest of her school.”

Houston’s attorney Ryan Beasley said the video doesn’t do the teacher justice.

“There were many witnesses in the classroom as to what happened and the playful nature of her relationship with her students,” he said. “We are confident that as more facts come to light, her reputation as an excellent and loving teacher will be restored.”

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Even though the teacher has stepped down, the student’s parents support the teacher.

“My son has nothing to do with this. He was tired and went to sleep,” said Julian Johnson, the student’s father. “I didn’t call for her to be fired. I wish it would go away and that it never happened.”

“She is an amazing educator, an amazing woman in this community and Anderson District One lost a great teacher in her,” former student Marcus Coppola said.

Many others support the teacher too and a petition signed by 1,600 supporters is circulating to help Houston get her job back.