by Isi Esene
An elementary school teacher in Manatee County, Florida, is in danger of losing her teaching license for comparing one of her students to an orangutan. She said she was fairly convinced that one of her students may be the evolutionary link between orangutans and humans.
The comment got seven “likes” and some responses laced with apparently innocent humour. Some comments even requested to know the identity of the student in question.
In a Digital Life report, the child’s mother, Lisa Wade, took exception to the public ridicule of her son and expressed her displeasure in an interview with a local TV station, Bay News 9.
She said she’s “disgusted with how they talked about my child. It hurts.”
“I send my child to school trusting them to teach him,” she said. “Not to talk about him.”
Margi Nanney, the Manatee County school district spokeswoman, told TODAY.com that the teacher involved “was verbally disciplined, along with some other teachers who participated in the Facebook conversation. The teacher also immediately deleted the posting and comments.”
Nanney also explained that the school principal has taken fence-mending measures by speaking with the mother of the child who was being made fun of on the social media platform.
The principal at G.D. Rogers Elementary School in Bradenton, also went further to refer the matter to the state Department of Education’s Office of Professional Practices, which is saddled with the responsibility of investigating such cases. The department also has the power to revoke the teacher’s license if need be.
The fact that the student is not white has however added a racial dimension to the incident, the representative of the National Association For The Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) said the postings’ racial undertones were clear and that the teacher should be disciplined and retrained advising that a more effective social media policy should be introduced to forestall future occurrences.
It is difficult to determine the motivation behind the teacher’s comment but it is clear she exercised poor judgement in her choice of words which might end up costing her her license.
“We’re just very sorry that this happened; it’s very disheartening,” Nanney said.