Texas teacher’s ‘staged photo’ of her foot on Black student’s neck sparks apology

    "I didn’t think anything of it. It was ‘ha, ha,’ and I moved on,"

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    A Texas elementary school teacher has been placed on leave after she reportedly sent a ‘joke’ photo of her foot on a Black student’s neck to the child’s mother. 

    The Greenville Independent School District (GISD) is investigating the incident after the disturbing image was posted to social media. The photo was reportedly taken at Lamar Elementary, on the same day former Minneapolis officer Derek Chauvin was found guilty in the murder of George Floyd after kneeling on his neck during an arrest for nearly ten minutes until he died. 

    The teacher texted the picture to the 10-year-old boy’s mother, who told local reporters that the photo was a “joke” about a discussion over a permission slip. Apparently, the teacher told the student to return an assignment or she would put a foot on his neck. 

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    “I didn’t think anything of it. It was ‘ha, ha,’ and I moved on,” the mother, who asked to remain anonymous, told NBC5. “The picture then began to bother me a little bit, showed it and my family got really upset about it.”

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    The mother claimed the teacher said: “Make sure you bring this paper back or I’m going to get on to you, and your mama told me to get on to you if I need to.” The teacher told her son, “I’m going to put my foot on your neck.” She said her son laughed and said, “I bet you won’t.”

    When another student reportedly encouraged the boy to lay on the ground, “that’s when I guess she put her foot on there,” she told NBC5. While the boy’s mom is more forgiving over the incident, his father Shamell said of the photo “I didn’t like it from the moment I seen it.”

    “I don’t really understand the whole situation, but all I know is it was never supposed to happen,” Shamell added.

    GSID Superintendent Dr. Demetrus Liggins sent an apology letter to parents Tuesday, in which he noted that the moment school officials became aware of the “staged photo,” they took swift action.

    “We will continue to be in touch with the family to be sure the student feels comfortable and safe on campus,” the letter said. 

    The district said the situation will be investigated and “appropriate action will be taken.”  

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    “My initial reaction was disgust,” Liggins said of the photo. “That is not who we are. That picture does not define our teachers, it does not define the way we treat our students and what the expectation is throughout our district.” 

    Liggins added, “We’re a community that truly embraces and respects each other, our differences, and celebrate the many cultures that exist here.”

    The student’s uncle is also not amused by a teacher’s “joke.”  

    “With what’s going on in the world right now that ain’t nothing to play about at all,” the boy’s uncle said. “Whether he agreed to do it, she asked him to do it, it don’t even matter. He’s 10. He don’t know no better. She do though.” 

    Liggin noted that this incident occurred on the day Chauvin was found guilty on all counts in the murder of Floyd, so “the optics again were just not good at all regardless of the intentions were,” he said.

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