Allegations that a white fifth-grade teacher yanked a minority student out of his chair last month and dragged him out of her classroom following an argument have stirred up controversy at a Raleigh elementary school.
Supporters of Anthony Perry, a fifth-grader at Conn Elementary School, brought a petition to Tuesday’s Wake County school board meeting demanding “justice” for the 11-year-old.
Speakers questioned how Wake handled the investigation, including allowing the teacher, who is not named in the petition, to remain in the classroom during the probe.
“I know it’s hard being a teacher,” Stephanie Lormand, a Conn parent who spoke at Tuesday’s board meeting, said in an interview Wednesday. “My mom was a teacher. But there’s no cause for anything a child says to justify a teacher dragging a student across the classroom.
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“That’s not reasonable force.”
Wake school officials told Anthony’s mother, Melissa Reynolds, in a letter received Wednesday that the investigation into the Oct. 5 incident has been closed.
“It is appropriate to note that there were many conflicting issues in this case which do not support the allegation that the teacher had any intent to cause harm or injury to any student,” J. Bryan Martin, a senior director in Wake’s human resources department, said in the letter.
Martin added that Raleigh police also closed its investigation without filing criminal charges.
Reynolds responded to Martin in an email Wednesday that she was very angry about the letter and said the incident wouldn’t have happened if Anthony was white. Anthony is biracial, but Reynolds said he’s perceived to be black.
Reynolds said it didn’t matter whether the teacher intended to cause harm or not.
“She harmed Anthony emotionally and physically when she dumped him out of his chair and dragged him on his butt by one wrist across the floor,” Reynolds wrote. “It is damaging to other kids to see a person in power do that to a child.
“It does not matter if he was bruised or bloody or not. It does not matter that she was sometimes nice to Anthony in the past. What she did was wrong and you know it.”
Reynolds said that on Oct. 5 another student threw a pen cap at Anthony and he threw it back. She said the teacher got angry when Anthony didn’t follow her order to go to the office.
She said the incident has traumatized Anthony and that she may have to take him to see a psychiatrist.
“How different would this situation be if the child had been White?” the petition says. “And what if the teacher was Black and the child was White? What would you do if this was happening to your child?”
On Tuesday, speakers requested:
▪ Wake pay for Anthony’s professional counseling and therapy;
▪ Wake inform the parents and guardians of students that witnessed the incident;
▪ Wake provide counseling to any students who were upset by what they saw;
▪ Conn engage in racial equity training for teachers;
▪ Conn improve teacher training.
“I witnessed the incident that happened and I hope that things like that don’t happen again,” Ella June Burge Walz, one of Anthony’s classmates, told the board on Tuesday. “I just want schools to be safe.”