A teacher at a Texas high school has been placed on administrative leave after a racial slur was displayed during a class lesson.
An English class at Houston’s Stratford High School was instructed to write 75 words on the prompt, “How is the [N-word] complicated? How has it changed?” according to media reports. The teacher spelled out the slur on a presentation slide in the classroom.
On the same slide, the teacher included a quote from rapper Tupac Shakur that also included the word.
The teacher was placed on administrative leave because of “concerns with the professional judgment” in the lesson, according to a statement provided by the Spring Branch Independent School District.
“Inappropriate and offensive language was used, which the Spring Branch Independent School District does not condone and will not accept,” the district said in a statement to McClatchy News.
The teacher was not identified by the district, though KTRK confirmed she is white.
Students said the writing assignment was a lead-in to a book the class was about to read, “Their Eyes Were Watching God,” written by Zora Neale Hurston, a Black woman, KHOU reported.
“That word didn’t need to come up on any screen, with any children of any color,” Mary Daly, whose granddaughter was in the class, told KPRC. “A thinking human is all you have to be. You don’t have to be any color to understand that that was completely wrong of (the teacher) to do.”
The lesson plan was not seen by the school district beforehand and it would not have been approved, a school district spokesperson told KHOU.
A biracial graduate of the school, Marcel McClinton, said his heart sank when he saw a photo of the assignment.
“It makes me feel very embarrassed to have her as a teacher and to have graduated from Stratford High School,” McClinton told KTRK. “I feel as though Black and brown students in her classroom are not respected or valued and I know that personally, because I had her as a teacher for a whole year.”
The school district is continuing to investigate the incident and said it will “take appropriate actions.”