A Black mother from San Marcos, Texas has filed two complaints with a local school district after her daughter’s teacher allegedly told white classmates that they could use the n-word, a racial slur for Black people. The mother’s daughter was the only Black student in the class.
On Monday night, Tasha Fennell spoke to the board of the San Marcos Consolidated Independent School District (CISD) about its racial diversity and inclusion efforts following the alleged December 2020 incident.
Fennell said that her daughter, Azariah, heard a male student interrupt her class in Doris Miller Jr. High School by opening the door and saying, “What’s up, my [n-word]?” When another male pupil told the student that he couldn’t say the n-word, the teacher allegedly responded, “If Black people can say it then white people can say it, too.”
Tasha Fennell told KXAN-TV, “I just don’t feel like it was her place to make the decision to say that in front of impressionable kids.” The mom filed a complaint in early January and filed two grievances with the San Marcos CISD since then.
Tasha Fennell said that the school district initially responded by inquiring whether the incident actually happened. Nevertheless, she wanted to help give her daughter a voice so that her feelings could be heard. Her daughter is one of the few Black students in the school.
“How it makes me feel, I don’t want someone else to go through the feeling that I had to go through,” Azariah Fennell told the TV station.
The district eventually apologized, agreed to provide additional training for school staff members and also promised to conduct an investigation. Additionally, the San Marcos CISD superintendent asked Azariah Fennell to serve on a monthly leadership council to discuss her concerns. Tasha Fennell has been asked to serve on a diversity council that will launch in August.
A few months ago, the district hired a third-party consultant to conduct a district-wide equity audit. The audit will take three years to complete, the district said.
However, Zack Linly, a writer with the Black news and cultural website The Root, criticized both the teacher’s reasoning and the district’s response.
“No white educator (or white person at all for that matter) has any business disregarding the feelings of millions of Black people across the country and taking it upon themselves to declare the n-word OK to use based on the fact that some Black people (like me) use the word at their leisure,” Linly wrote.
“At the very least, this teacher needed to consider how the situation made the only Black student in the room feel,” he added.
Linly also criticized the San Marcos CISD for asking one of the school’s only black families to do additional work to help resolve its racial issues.
Newsweek contacted the San Marcos CISD for comment.