Wendy Brilowski, a teacher in Highland Park Middle School, Minnesota, was captured on video saying ” f—— n——“, while another staffer attempts to downplay what she said by noting “she’s repeating what you’re saying” after the slur was hurled, but the roughly 20-second video does not show any students speaking prior to the offensive comments.
Saint Paul Public Schools Superintendent Joe Gothard apologized to parents in a video message and vowed to take appropriate action after footage of the incident was posted online.
“As educators, we have to be held to a higher standard and we know that this situation represents a failure on our part,” Gothard said. “And we will not fall silent in the face of racism in our schools.”
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People really do value being bigots more than their career. Fascinating.
— ❄Mikki Kendall❄ (@Karnythia) May 12, 2019
Brandy Coleman, the mother of one of the students, told NBC-affiliate KARE that the video highlights the culmination of ongoing tensions between Brilowski and students of color.
“It breaks my heart that I didn’t know the magnitude of the situation so that I could intervene before that video,” Coleman said.
“No matter the situation, the racist and foul language used by a staff member in the video has no place in Saint Paul Public Schools,” a statement from Gothard read.
His full written statement is below:
I am writing to address a disturbing video taken at Highland Park Middle that was shared on social media. No matter the situation, the racist and foul language used by a staff member in the video has no place in Saint Paul Public Schools.
The staff member is currently on administrative leave – which is standard practice – pending the outcome of a district review.
We will work to understand what happened and take immediate, aggressive action to address this situation.
Highland Park Middle School strives to provide a safe, respectful and welcoming environment for every single child — and as educators, we must be held to the highest possible standard.
The words and actions recorded in this video have caused harm to our Black students, their families and our entire school community. These actions go against Saint Paul Public Schools core values and its commitment to serving youth and families.
We will not be silent in the face of racist language in our schools — and we cannot perpetuate it. We will not make excuses for actions that hurt the students that we as educators have dedicated our lives to serve.
Following this incident, we have a lot of work to do to repair harm and rebuild trust with our students and our community. We take that responsibility seriously. We offer a sincere apology for the actions that took place in our building on Wednesday.
Thank you for supporting your child and Saint Paul Public Schools.