society and culture
Swearingen, who presides over the students at Ponderosa Elementary School, was discussing an African-American special needs student, who has a habit of running out of class, when she told staff the next time he ran:
We won't chase him. We will call the police and tell them he has a gun so they can come faster.
After hearing about the awful comment, parents were rightfully upset. One parent, Jessica Spoonemoore had this to say:
It's disgusting. That kind of comment is disgusting even if it was a joke how could you recant something like that? Children are getting killed by gun violence and that was very unnecessary and disturbing especially for an elementary school.
Social media reactions have echoed the sentiment.
Swearingen has not spoken to media but did issue a public apology.
Your children mean the world to me, and I'm heartbroken that my thoughtless remark has caused disruption to the hard work underway here at Ponderosa. Here in our community, we had a hard year with Hurricane Harvey, and the damage it caused to a large part of our neighborhood. I was so proud of the unity seen in this community during the recovery efforts.
Please know that the same commitment and drive that I had to make things right for our children after the storm, I have today as I work to make things right now with both staff and parents.
"I am truly sorry for the comment I made. It does not in any way reflect the love and care I have for the students of Ponderosa.
Not everyone was willing to accept the apology.
Parents and social media aren't the only ones speaking out. The Spring Independent School District issued the following statement:
While the comment was made in jest, it was inappropriate and should never have been made. That point has been thoroughly communicated to Ponderosa's principal who actually self reported the incident to the district ― taking full accountability for the inappropriateness of the comment. Ponderosa's principal has also apologized to her school community.
The district will continue to monitor the school climate at Ponderosa to ensure that incidents like this do not occur again.
The fate of Swearingen is still unknown. The district will not discuss disciplinary action.