A Wake Forest High School teacher lost a week’s pay for not dealing with the racial insults and harassment in his classroom that triggered a viral video of a student throwing a classmate to the floor.
William Sullivan was suspended without pay for five days from March 20-24, according to Lisa Luten, a Wake County schools spokeswoman. Sullivan received “appropriate disciplinary action” for the classroom environment that led to the March 2 video of 15-year-old Micah Speed, who is black, pulling a white classmate to the floor, according to a letter that Wake Forest High Principal Patti Hamler wrote to Speed’s family.
An investigation by the Wake County school system showed the white student had been bullying Micah. Both students were disciplined.
“It is clear that the classroom environment was such that students freely engaged in inappropriate comments, including racial and ethnic jokes and ‘roasting’ of one another,” Hamler wrote. “It is also clear that this classroom atmosphere created the opportunity for the specific bullying and harassing behavior directed to Micah on March 2, 2017 and that Mr. Sullivan did not intervene as tensions between Micah and the other student escalated that day.”
Sullivan, who did not return a request for comment Monday, was hired by Wake in August 2008. Sullivan, who is white, has a salary of $59,114.
Hamler said that the other student referred to Micah as being “black as a coffee bean” and said he should name his children “Crackhead and Convict.” Hamler also said the student showed Micah “a violent video on his smart phone and spoke about shooting Micah and his family.”
Hamler said an investigation did not determine that Sullivan knowingly ignored, condoned or supported the harassing behavior that took place in the marketing class.
In addition to the March 2 incident, Hamler said the review determined that a group of students in Sullivan’s class, including Micah and the other student, frequently joked about Nazis and the Holocaust.
Hamler also said that Sullivan admitted to saying the word “OK” as “Otay” as a joking and “inappropriate” reference to a speaker he had seen at a conference who had a speech impediment.