An employee at a Milwaukie, Ore. elementary school is no longer working for the district after an investigation was launched into students alleging that she made a racist remark to them during lunch period.
Syreeta Spencer told KGW8 that her 11-year-old daughter, Jasmyn, who is biracial, was eating lunch with her friends, mostly children of color, at Linwood Elementary School when the school employee chastised them for misbehaving.
"The [employee] was like, you're lucky I'm not making you pick cotton and clean my house and stuff like that," Jasmyn told the station earlier this month. "It made me feel really sad and targeted."
Spencer, who found out about the comment when her daughter came home from school that day, immediately went to the school to speak with the principal.
"If she were to curse at the kids or yell at them, that's forgivable and we can work past that," Spencer said, regarding the employee who monitors lunch and recess. "To say something about picking cotton and cleaning and painting houses, that's deeper than that and it's not something that just slips out."
Jonathan Hutchison, spokesperson for the North Clackamas School District, said in a statement to KGW: "This prompted an ongoing personnel investigation involving the school and NCSD's Human Resources Department.”
In the mean time, the employee was placed on leave. Then, on Tuesday, a letter was sent to parents informing them that she was no longer an employee of the district.
The principal of Linwood Elementary, Amy Busch, did not immediately respond to Yahoo Lifestyle’s requests for comment. However, a letter sent to parents and obtained by KGW8 read, "Dear families of our Linwood Elementary School Community: I wanted to update you on the situation that occurred last week in our school community. We have concluded our investigation about the inappropriate racialized comments by a staff member to students. The employee involved is no longer employed within the North Clackamas School District.
"We know and understand that the impact of words spoken can be hurtful for our students and that was the case in this situation. I deeply regret this impact and will continue to work with our students and school community to make sure they are heard and feel supported.
"Our school and the school district are committed to an inclusive environment that honors each student’s identity and provides safety, respect, and care in each of our spaces."
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