A teacher in Pennsylvania who launched into a racist rant, including using the “n-word,” has been placed on administrative leave without pay after a video of the incident went viral on Facebook. The teacher, who has been employed at the school since 2008, uses racist and homophobic language over what appears to be a fender bender in the Drexel Hill Middle School parking lot. And yes: Rasheed Noel, the person recording the video, whom she tosses slurs at, is indeed the parent of a minor who attends the school.
As the video opens, Noel says, “I guess she’s done cursin’ and screaming,” though we don’t have footage of what preempted this.
In response, the woman, whose name has not yet been publicly released, checks the bumper of the truck she was driving before saying that the man is “probably on welfare too.” Yikes! Somehow, it gets worse.
In response to the welfare jab, the man replies, “Not even a little bit. Six figures a year, ma’am,” to which the woman refutes.
“It’s because I’m young and I’m black, the reason why you would say that,” he replies, to which, as she continues to rub her bumper, she says, “That’s right, because you’re black.”
“Probably on welfare,” he mimics back at her.
“That’s right,” she replies. “Always looking to milk the system. And you see me, a white woman, so you think I got money.”
“Not even a little bit. Don’t even look like you got it,” he counters. “Not even a little bit.”
“Go back to your welfare, to your Section 8 house,” she continues. "Do you see the big truck I have? Look at the piece of s--t you have."
They go back and forth a bit before she tosses out the n-word.
He then says, “I’m sorry.”
“You heard me,” she says.
“This situation can change real quick,” he says.
She moves toward him then stops and says, “What are you going to do about it?”
They go back and forth briefly again before she moves back in the direction of her truck. The video, which is about 90 seconds long, cuts out just after she calls him a “freakin’ fag.”
“Right now, this person is on administrative leave without pay,” Upper Darby School District Superintendent Daniel McGarry confirmed to CNN in an interview. “We’re going to pursue it vigorously. The next steps are the staff member can elect arbitration.”
Aside from being horrifying, this incident is a particularly big deal because racism is insidious in schools. To be clear: No background or prior disciplinary issues have been released about this particular teacher, meaning we don’t know if this teacher ever used similar language toward an actual student. We only know the context of this video, which included a conversation with an adult.
But in the big picture, it’s been well-documented that students of color—particularly black students—are more likely to be perceived as more troublesome than their white peers, which leads to their higher rates of being suspended, expelled, and even arrested. Racist (and homophobic) outbursts like this raise understandable concerns about prejudice and bias that could be harmful to students.
So, will this teacher actually be fired? According to CNN, McGarry can’t promise that. "My recommendation is that we shouldn't tolerate this in our school and in our district, I can't go into more detail than that," he told the news station.
"I commend the Upper Darby school district for taking quick action on this teacher at Drexel Hill Middle School," Noel wrote in the Facebook accompanying the video. "They are doing everything in their power to make sure people like this teacher become non existent in any school."
Here’s news coverage which includes the video. And as noted in the above write-up, a major trigger warning for racist and homophobic language: