Teacher resigns over alleged ‘racist tirade’


Concerned parents and community members approached the Simpson County School Board last week over what they termed a “racist tirade” that had occurred at Magee High School.

The comments led to the resignation of a math teacher at Magee High. 

According to KaSheda Barnes, the parent who appeared before the board, a classroom argument lead the teacher, Christopher Monk, to create an analogy in which Monk said he was “the planation owner” and the student was “a slave.” 

This situation occurred in a classroom setting where all but two of the students were African-American.  According to Barnes, who got the account from her child, the discussion escalated to the point of “the slave being drowned by the white plantation owners.”  This comment led some of the students to claim that  Monk’s comments were racist.

At that point emotions started running high and Monk admitted that he was “racist against people who come and take jobs and threaten the safety of America.”  Students reported that Monk was using the term “the f word” and then used the actual word in front of students. 

At this point several of the students, about five according to the student’s report, got up and left the class room.  None of this was reported at the actual board meeting.

Barnes wanted to know why her child was faced with a situation like this and there was no communication from the school to parents.  She said she had attempted to contact the school’s principal, Dr. Tom Duncan, but he was not available when she called.  She and Duncan left the board meeting at that point and went into the hall to discuss the issue. 

None of the details of the situation were discussed in the meeting.  Board President Stacey Herring said it was a personnel issue and had to be discussed in executive session. 

According to law,  however, that is incorrect.  The board may choose to go into executive session to discuss personnel issues but it is not required. 

A Mr. Lomax, a former Simpson County student who attended the meeting, said, “This is the  typical Simpson County where everything is hush, hush and cover things up.” 

Barnes’s complaint was the fact that an issue had escalated to this level and the school had not notified the parents of the children in the class.  She expressed her opinion that the situation was handled improperly. 

The board also heard Amanda Welborn, who complained that her child had been the victim of bullying which had been reported to the schools.  The situation continued and her child was tripped by the same student she had problems with.  The fall resulted in the loss of her two front permanent teeth. 

Mrs. Welborn broke into tears as she explained that these situations can lead to school violence as well as additional injuries and even suicide if the situations are not controlled by the school. 

The alleged bullying occurred at the Magee Middle School. Principal Terrell Luckey was given the opportunity to respond.  He said the schools can follow the directives of the board, but there is no way they can monitor students 24 hours a day seven days a week. 

Board President Herring stated, “Kids are mean.” 

A revised policy for dealing with issues like bullying is being prepared by Debbie Davis, deputy superintendent.  Upon review by the board, the new policy will be adopted for the upcoming school year. 

The board approved retirements of Traci Brown and Marsha Winningham.  They accepted resignations from Kirby Craft, principal of Mendenhall Junior High, and Calvin Williams. 

They approved the following administrative recommendations for 2018-2019:

Debbie Davis, Deputy Superintendent

Misty Hanna, Associate Superintendent

Jeanie Pigg, Associate Superintendent

Rhonda Berry, Principal Mendenhall Elementary

Robert Sanders, Principal Mendenhall High

Antoinette Woodall, Principal Simpson Central

Paul Lawrence, Principal Magee Elementary

Terrell Luckey, Principal Magee Middle School

Tom Duncan, Principal Magee High

George Huffman, Principal Vocational Center

Roma Morris, Principal Achievement Center and Duane Fewell, Director of Finance. 

The board also approved hiring Teddy Dyess as Athletic Director and Head Coach at Magee High School, replacing Tim Coats. 

The board acknowledged other awards.

Drew Lane was recognized as Teacher of the Year;  Robert Sanders was recognized as Administrator of the Year and also was given a separate award for improvements shown at Mendenhall High School. 

A special presentation was made by students on behalf of Sanders to the board.

Tracy Runnels presented a check to Superintendent Greg Paes in the amount of $1,500 to be used for the Archery Program at Simpson Central School, which is directed by Jeffery Walker. 

Superintendent Greg  Paes reported that plans are underway to meet with architects to have the original Magee Middle School building demolished.

The next meeting of the board will be a recessed meeting on March 29 at 6 p.m. to discuss the scheduled rates of pay as well as contract approval.