The mother of a student who was compared to a slave by a Wake County middle school teacher wants the school system to apologize and to ensure that her son will not be targeted by teachers and students.
A video posted on Snapchat on Wednesday shows an Apex Middle School teacher yelling at a seventh-grade student at the school. The teacher, Dick Wesendunk, has been suspended with pay while Wake investigates.
“Did I call you a n-----?” Wesendunk says in the video. “No, I said you are being controlled, by kids. That is exactly what happened to the slaves. They were controlled by their owners. You’re letting him control you and you’re the one who’s getting in trouble.”
Ayona Wilson, whose son appears in the video, said she was upset about what Wesendunk said.
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“I just feel like Wake County is not doing their job when it comes to the education system with these teachers and what is happening behind closed doors,” said Wilson, who lives in Apex. “It wasn’t handled properly. I’m not going to be quiet, I’m going to speak out.”
Wilson said she and her son did not realize there was video footage of the incident until her son saw it on Snapchat on Wednesday. Her son was embarrassed, she said, and he has received messages from other students calling him a snitch and asking why he told his mother.
“I was furious and sick to my stomach (after seeing the video),” Wilson said. “My son is scared the children are going to make fun of him ... and he’s scared that one of the teachers is going to say something to him.”
On Thursday, Wilson met with Apex Middle School principal Allen Ellzey and seventh-grade assistant principal Kenneth Perry. They asked her not to speak publicly about the incident, she said.
Ellzey sent a recorded phone message to Apex Middle School parents on Thursday saying he contacted the school system’s human resources department “because the language used by the teacher raised concerns. They, in turn, suspended the teacher pending an investigation.”
Wilson said she hopes Wesendunk does not return to the school. Wesendunk is a physical education teacher and the football coach at Apex Middle.
“They’re going to do things that are going to push your buttons,” Wilson said of students. “If you don’t know how to control your own temper, then you shouldn’t be working with children.”
Wilson plans to meet with the school’s leaders again on Monday.
“I want assurance that they’re not going to treat my son any differently,” she said, adding that she does not want her son to attend Apex Middle next school year.
The incident is the latest in a string of racially charged incidents involving Wake students and teachers that have gone viral on social media.
In March, a video showed a black Wake Forest High School student throwing a white student to the floor twice. The school district determined the black student had been racially harassed and punished both the white student and the classroom teacher who did not prevent the bullying.
Also in March, three Leesville Road Middle School students were disciplined after they posted a video making derogatory remarks about different racial and ethnic groups and chanting “KKK, KKK.”
An Apex Friendship High School student was disciplined for an April Snapchat post that compared African-American members of the school’s step team with freed slaves.
Wake school officials have said they’re working to address the racial issues in North Carolina’s largest school system.
Madison Iszler: 919-836-4952; firstname.lastname@example.org