The Wake County school system is defending a Wake Forest High School teacher who was shown on a viral video stopping a racially heated confrontation between two students last week.
The video, which has been seen thousands of times on social media, shows Micah Speed pulling a white classmate to the floor twice on March 2, including once after being called a “black piece of (expletive).” The white female teacher can be seen on the video racing out of her classroom and telling Speed to go to the office as she says “Don’t touch me” and “He used words.”
The teacher’s actions have drawn complaints from some people on social media. But Lisa Luten, a Wake schools spokeswoman, said the teacher “saw a disruption in the hallway and immediately stepped in to ensure the safety of students.”
“She was not their teacher, did not know them and had no knowledge of what triggered the altercation,” Luten said Thursday. “She made a split-second decision to deescalate the situation in a way that was successful and appropriate.”
Wake has not publicly identified the teacher in the video. She declined a request for comment.
A friend of Speed and his mother, Yolanda Speed, have said that Micah’s actions were triggered by months of racial harassment and a death threat from the student that were not dealt with by a different teacher. Speed received a 10-day suspension that was later reduced to five days.
Some people have gone on social media complaining about Speed’s suspension and have confused the teacher in the video with being the same teacher who is accused of doing nothing in response to the alleged harassment. Some people have also criticized the teacher’s words to Speed.
“During the altercation the teacher used the phrase ‘It’s just words,’” Luten said. “Clearly, words matter. They can be racist, aggressive, harmful and reprehensible to an entire school community. But the teacher was focused solely on de-escalating the immediate physical altercation.”
Some people have even threatened the teacher. While Yolanda Speed has criticized how the high school handled her son’s situation, she said threatening the teacher is wrong.
“People threatening the lady is absolutely ludicrous,” Yolanda Speed said.
It’s unclear what happened to the other teacher or to the other student. Luten said it’s not public information what, if any action, may have been taken.
Yolanda Speed has said she was told that the other student had been disciplined, but she said she wasn’t provided any details.
“Our educators try to address all incidents of harassment and bullying and we will continue to investigate the details of this situation to determine if more could have been done,” Luten said. “We are committed to using this experience as an opportunity to grow and to ensure all students in our community feel welcome and safe.”