A charter school in Pitt County is under fire for racism after a social media activist called out one of its teachers and school administrators.
Winterville Charter Academy, a publicly funded school operated by a Michigan-based corporation, allowed an eighth-grade teacher to resign after an inappropriate lesson and other problems, according to the video-blogger known as Jolly Good Ginger, who has a large following on Instagram.
The activist on Tuesday used his platform to post Facebook messages and an email from parents and a letter from the school, along with a two-and-half minute video that detailed allegations. The video, which encouraged viewers to call the school, had garnered more than 70,000 views by Wednesday.
The school on Wednesday referred questions to its corporate parent, National Heritage Academies. Spokeswoman Colleen Cullison said her office had received numerous requests for comment.
No one at the school or with the company would be made available to answer questions, she said. She issued the following statement.
“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.”
The teacher on Sept. 17, Constitution Day, asked black students in her class to raise their hands, the blogger said, and told them they would be working for her in a field if it wasn’t for the Constitution. He also reported allegations from parents that the teacher mishandled subsequent racist comments by a student.
He said students’ complaints to administrators fell on deaf ears until students told their parents, who communicated to each other on Facebook and sent an email to the school’s board. Only then did an investigation result in disciplinary action and a letter to parents dated a week later, on Sept. 24, the blogger said.
The letter said the matter was brought to the school’s attention on Sept. 20 and “the teacher was supported in turning in her resignation and will not be returning to campus.”
The activist also reported that the student who leveled a racist remark in the classroom was allowed to apologize but then made further comments this week.
On Wednesday, he posted another video that included a letter he said was from the school’s principal. That letter indicated it was sent Tuesday in response to the first video. Among other things, it said that further behavior by the student was being investigated.
The Jolly Good Ginger in his bio says that he is a reformed bigot and racist raised in the mountains of North Carolina with a Confederate flag in his front yard. “Now I am spending my adult years educating the white community on our own implicit biases, our own bigotry and just generally what racism really is about.”
Winterville Charter Academy is a K-8 school that opened on Bayswater Drive off of Fire Tower Road in 2015. Its website says it has 661 students. Sixty-one percent of them are black, 26 percent are white and 10 percent are Hispanic.
Further calls placed to the school Thursday afternoon went unanswered. More than 20 angry comments were followed a Fall Vibes Only post on the schools’ Facebook page.