A viral video shows a white Baltimore City Public Schools teacher forcibly ejecting one student and then berating her classroom: "You're idiots. You have a chance to get an education. Do you wanna be a punk-ass nigger who's gonna get shot?”
Erica Gales, of Madison Park, posted the video after her son, an 8th grade student at Harlem Park Elementary/Middle School, told her about the incident and that a friend had recorded it. The video has since gotten more than 1.2 million views and has been reported on by The Root and various Baltimore outlets.
Watch the full video below:
In a telephone interview with City Paper today, Gales said she was told the teacher, whom she identified as Ms. Kumm, had been placed on administrative leave and then fired.
BCPS released the following statement: "Yesterday a middle school science teacher at Harlem Park Elementary/Middle School engaged in verbally abusive behavior and made racially charged comments directed at students. The teacher involved in the incident is no longer employed by City Schools.
"At Baltimore City Public Schools, we are committed to creating positive and equitable learning environments in school communities where all members are welcome, supported, and valued. No form of discriminatory behavior of any kind is or will be tolerated."
Gales spoke highly of the teacher, saying she was one of her son's favorites, and that her son was one of the teacher's favorite students. The teacher was also good about communicating with Gales about her son, she said.
“It was really heartbreaking for him to see it, to hear it, to be a part of it," she said.
Still, it shouldn't have gone this far.
“Under no circumstances is it right, she definitely should have handled it a different way," said Gales. "It's unfortunate on both ends, because the kids lose a good teacher."
Several teacher vacancies made it so that her son's classroom had gone from 20 students to 34, Gales noted, and at that age, "they can be a little unruly, a little wild." But she was still left wondering how the situation spun so far out of control.
“I hope that they’re able to move on from this. I hope they’ll learn a lesson, for the students and the teachers," said Gales. "I hope they’ll be able to move on in a positive way.”
In a press conference this afternoon, Baltimore Schools CEO Sonja Santelises said she first learned of the video yesterday and found it "appalling."
Her office immediately got in touch with Human Resources to fire the teacher. Citing personnel reasons, she declined to say anything about the teacher's reaction or background.
Counselors were sent to the school and an assembly was being held today to discuss the incident, she said.
She made sure to distinguish that this was not an ordinary situation of a teacher trying to regain control in the classroom.
"Every teacher in Baltimore City who might have a challenge with classroom management does not resort to the behavior that was demonstrated in that video," she said.