An Ohio social studies teacher who told a black middle school student he might get “lynched” by his classmates if he did not focus on his schoolwork is under fire by the boy’s mother, who wants the educator removed from the class.
School officials confirmed that Renee Thole, who is white and teaches at a school in suburban Cincinnati, admitted making the racially insensitive remark to the 13-year-old student on Dec. 4 at Mason Middle School, ABC News reported.
Thole was not fired, but was reprimanded and ordered to take cultural sensitivity training, The Washington Post reported.
That’s not enough for the boy’s mother, Tanisha Agee-Bell.
“I want her removed from the classroom until she can get the proper training,” Agee-Bell told ABC News.
Agee-Bell said her son told her about Thole’s comment, which occurred in front of his classmates, on Dec. 12. She immediately emailed the teacher and then spoke to her on the phone, demanding an apology in front of his classmates, ABC News reported.
“He was in class and the teacher told him that if he didn’t get on task his friends are going to form an angry mob and lynch you,” Agee-Bell told ABC News. “When she said that, he said back to her, 'That’s racist,’ She approached him and said, ‘Why do you think that’s racist? I would never do anything to hurt you.’”
According to the NAACP website, there were 4,743 lynchings in the United States from 1882 to 1968. Of that number, 3,446 were black.
Tracey Carson, a spokeswoman for the Mason School District, confirmed that Thole had made the comment.
“She immediately recognized she had done something wrong,” Carson told ABC News.
The letter of reprimand read in part, “You shared that you realized that you cannot take that moment back but can only strive to make it a teachable moment for you and the students with your actions.”
The teacher did apologize to the teen on Dec. 13. Agee-Bell had her son removed from Thole’s class, WCPO reported.
Agee-Bell said she was not convinced that the teacher understood the gravity of her words.
"I told her, ‘The fact that you’re a social studies teacher and you don’t understand the racial implications of what you said to my son baffles me,’” Agee-Bell told ABC News.
While Thole has not commented publicly, according to her incident summary she wrote that she made a comment “where I didn’t stop and think before I spoke. As a result of that I deeply hurt a student and I regret that.”
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