MILWAUKIE, OR (KPTV) – A Linwood Elementary School employee is now on leave after parents say she made a racist comment to students.
“It hurt me inside,” said fifth grader Jasmyn Spencer.
She and her mom Syreeta can't believe what happened at school on Friday.
“I wasn't really expecting to hear what she told me,” she said.
Jasmyn says she was one of about 15 fifth graders sitting at a lunch table at Linwood Elementary School and that they got in trouble for being too loud.
She says an instructional assistant at the school first told them they couldn’t go outside because of their behavior and then that she was going to record them misbehaving to show their parents at graduation.
Then, things escalated even more.
“She said that you’re lucky I’m not making you guys pick cotton and clean my house and everybody just got extremely mad about that,” Jasmyn said.
Her mother said, “It would be different if she cussed at them or yelled at them. Of course, that’s not appropriate but to bring up picking cotton to a group of mostly brown and black kids is definitely inappropriate.”
On Tuesday, the school principal sent a letter to parents saying that the staff member has been placed on leave during an investigation into what happened.
The letter goes on to say, “We know that the impact has been hurtful and emotional for our students. We deeply regret this impact and will continue to work with our students to make sure that they are heard and feel supported.”
“It was a very insensitive and mean comment to say, so I feel like her being on leave is a good start but I’m not satisfied with just that, so I’m hopeful and optimistic that something more will be done,” Syreeta said.
And Syreeta says through this situation, she wants to teach her daughter to stand up for herself and others and open up a dialogue about sensitivity and compassion.
“I don’t want this to get swept under the rug and there’s a bigger issue and a bigger picture that is underlying, so just trying to make a difference,” she said.
The school isn’t able to give any more details while this is under investigation, but the principal says they’re taking it very seriously and want to make sure all of the facts are discovered.
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