Parents express outrage after teacher resigns after ‘racially insensitive lesson’ at Winterville Charter Academy

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WINTERVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) — Parents of a local charter school continued to express frustration over a “racially insensitive lesson” that resulted in one teacher’s resignation on Wednesday and alleged racially charged comments from other students.

“The teacher asked the black kids in the class to raise their hands and said something along the lines of ‘they would work in a field for her had it not been for the Constitution’,” said RayLonda Grice, a parent to two children attending Winterville Charter Academy.

Grice urged all parents to talk to their kids and ask them if they’ve seen or experienced situations like this one in their own classrooms.

“We have to come together as a parent family and as a school family and make some changes”, Grice said.

Winterville Charter Academy Principal Annastasia Ryan sent out a memo to parents on September 24 admitting there was in fact a “racially insensitive lesson” at the school, and that action was taken.

On Monday evening, it was brought to the attention of school administration that a racially insensitive lesson regarding the importance of the Constitution of the United States was carried out during an English lesson on Constitution Day.

Memo from Principal Annastasia Ryan, Winterville Charter Academy

It adds that two “racially insensitive words” were reportedly used by multiple children in the classroom “without appropriate redirection along with inappropriate response from the educator.”

The school went on to tell parents an investigation was conducted and that “the teacher was supported in turning in her resignation and will not be returning on campus.” Teachers at the school would undergo “culturally sensitive training” while it works on “proactive training measures for our current and future staff members.”

9OYS spoke with parents of the charter school who say when the first memo was sent, they didn’t realize how deep it went.

“I was under the impression that it was just something dealing with a lesson that was being taught within the classroom and parents had an issue with it”, said Grice.

When she did learn the details, she said she was disgusted.

I was appalled, I didn’t know how to feel. I knew I was angry because I’m a parent of two black children at this school and they weren’t affected directly but it could have been one of my kids. And every kid deserved to be comfortable and learn and not have to worry about whether or not their teacher dislikes them because of the color of their skin.

RayLonda Grice, parent at Winterville Charter Academy

On October 5, a second memo was sent to families of the school, addressing recent social media posts made about the incident. It reads:

As soon as we were made aware of each incident we immediately took action. The result was a teacher resignation and the children involved being disciplined in accordance with our Parent and Student handbook. The most recent situation of racially insensitive student remarks is currently being investigated.

Memo from Principal Annastasia Ryan, Winterville Charter Academy

Those remarks made by other students include a white student calling a black student the “N-word” as well as “fried chicken lover” according to parents. When the black student went to that same teacher asking for actions to be done the teacher responded with something along the lines of “Oh, well we are all a little bit racist.”

It goes on to say, “These situations concern us, too. Our school culture is built on one of acceptance, love, and respect to serve all children and their families. The inner workings of our school are surrounded by intentional effort to eliminate implicit and explicit bias.”

Grice and other parents say the teacher’s resignation was as good as a slap on the wrist. “I think the teacher and the student should be held accountable, she shouldn’t be able to resign because that means she can just go somewhere else and treat someone else’s kids like that.”

9OYS reached out to Winterville Charter Academy and their management company, National Heritage Academies for a statement. We received one back, it reads:

The school leadership team acted immediately upon learning about a racially insensitive lesson and student remarks, and is currently working to address ongoing concerns from parents that racially insensitive student remarks continue. While student and staff privacy rights prevent me from sharing specific details, what I can share is that we will not tolerate racism in our school community and will continue taking swift action that addresses these issues.

Statement from Colleen Cullison, National Heritage Academies

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