Parents and activists have called out five teachers of the Christian School District in Missouri after they were captured in a photo holding up alphabets on individual cards that collectively spelled a racial slur.
According to KSDK, the teachers captured in the photo were playing a game of human scrabble, and they posed for the photo after joining letters to form the racially derogatory word, “Coons.” The photo was subsequently shared on social media and parents alleged it was also uploaded on the website of the school’s district. The school’s principal, Jake Ibbetson, however, denied the allegations of the photo being shared on the school’s website. He also said it wasn’t posted on their official social media accounts.
“They were running around trying to spell raccoon, but they didn’t have the R and the A,” Pastor Raymond Horry, a parent of two students in the district, told the news outlet. “I don’t believe it that five Caucasian teachers, not one of them knew that. Maybe one didn’t know it, maybe two didn’t know it, but all 5 didn’t know it?”
Despite the allegations of the teachers’ actions being deliberate, a basketball coach and former student of the Christian High School was adamant it was a mistake and threw his weight behind the accused educators.
“This isn’t our school this was a mistake,” John Smith told KSDK. “Everybody in the world makes mistakes, everybody in the world has faults and this is just a little fault that we’ve had. This is not our school. I truly believe that they did not know what they were posting.”
The district also released a statement saying they were looking into the incident, and “appropriate disciplinary action will occur after the investigation is complete.”
“We recognize that this ill-informed action caused hurt and offense to many students and families in our school and in the wider community,” the statement added. “We offer no excuse as to why this word was used. In a statement to families last night, we apologized for the incident and sought their forgiveness. We also ask that of anyone who has been impacted by this picture.”
The incident has, however, left a number of parents of students in the district shaken and they’re calling for reform together with the St. Charles County branch of the NAACP, KSDK reported. “I’m angry, I’m hurt because I trust you with my child,” a parent said.
Another parent also said his child told him: “‘’Mom, I’m tired of it, do what you need to do because this is not fair and I’m tired of feeling like this.’”