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Oklahoma Teacher Placed On Leave After Telling 13-Year-Old Boy His 'Black King' Shirt is Racist

Oklahoma Teacher Placed On Leave After Telling 13-Year-Old Boy His 'Black King' Shirt is Racist
KFOR Oklahoma's News 4/YouTube

A White 7th-grade Science teacher is now on paid administrative leave after calling out one of her Black students for his choice of attire and for calling him racist during an online class.

13-year-old Latrell Taft recently celebrated his 13th birthday, for which he received a black t-shirt with a colorful outline of Africa on it. The shirt's eye-catching design reads "Black King."

Taft loved and was proud of the shirt for what it represented for him.

Taft explained:

"I am proud of my Blackness, and she will never take it away from me."
"I am a king because I think I'm a king."

But clearly, not everyone felt that way, and they couldn't just keep it to themselves.

Taft later explained, during a lesson about the Periodic Table, his teacher stopped mid-lesson to address his t-shirt.

Taft said:

"She said that if she had a shirt that said White queen it would have been racist."
"Then after that, she said we need a White history month. I said Black people don't have enough recognition and we barely learn about Black people in February at my school."

Taft was "embarassed" by the incident and said his classmates' response made it worse when most of them shared their teacher's sentiment.

After Taft shared what happened with his mother, Melisa Shirley, she proceeded to share her concerns with the school, who did not seem to take the moment seriously, at least at first.

Later, however, the school district released a statement, claiming they had been made aware of the event that occurred between Taft and his teacher, and an investigation was underway.

The teacher has since been placed on paid administrative leave while the school board investigates what happened in the classroom.

If it is determined the teacher participated and solicited the bullying and discrimination of her student, further action may be taken.

The Director of Communications for the school district, Susan Parks-Schlepp, also stated:

"This afternoon, district leadership is meeting with the teacher. A decision on disciplinary action could be taken following this afternoon's meeting if warranted by the facts and authorized by state law and board policy."

The public responded to the event, demanding immediate resolution.

Parks-Schlepp responded again after the meeting with the teacher:

"Edmond Public Schools district administrators met this afternoon, Thursday, Feb. 25, with a Heartland Middle School teacher at the center of a complaint."
"The district recognizes the public's desire for a quick resolution to this issue."
"However, it's important to note that employees have fundamental rights to ensure fairness when they are the subject of a complaint. Those rights include an option for the teacher to respond to and contest any recommended disciplinary action."
"As such, the district cannot, at this time, divulge any further details about the outcome of today's meeting."

It's unclear what will be done about the teacher's behavior, but it seems the school is interested in further racial bias training for their teachers.