One week into the school year, a fourth-grade Utah teacher was placed on paid leave for sharing a video on social media in which she stated that her classroom was “built for nonwhite students.”
The teacher started the video by explaining that she was just hired at William Penn Elementary School. “For the first time in my life, I’m going to be teaching at a majority-white school, and I’m kind of interested to see how students and parents react to my classroom, or if they even notice anything about it, because it’s built for nonwhite students.”
The elementary school teacher explained, “What I mean by that is if you look around at some of the materials I have, you’ll notice that there is, like, no white kids represented in that.”
She stated that she does not expect students will mind, but that there is “not a single white face there.” To provide an example, the teacher talked about a stack of coloring pages for students. She said, “Not a single one depicts a white person or character.”
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She also discussed her classroom library and said it included white authors, but only because “of course, literature is kind of dominated by straight cis white men.” The educator stated that her literature collection had since become overpowered by books representing diverse backgrounds. She said her classroom library now includes books featuring people of color, non-binary, transgender, and LGBTQ characters.
The teacher concluded the video by stating that she predicts parents might have something to say about her classroom materials based on her prior experience with “posh white parents.”
KUTV reported that the teacher was placed on paid leave after the video was brought to the attention of the Granite School District.
In a statement to the local news outlet, the district said, “Granite District recently learned of the personal social media post by a new 4th grade teacher at one of our elementary schools. The post is allegedly several weeks old. The comments made by this employee are very disconcerting and she has been placed on leave while the District investigates the matter. It would be in violation of our District policies and State Board Rule to teach anything other than the approved curriculum and standards or to discriminate against any student. As soon as our investigation is complete, we anticipate taking appropriate corrective action. We know that our role as educators is to support parents and the families we serve and we value our parents and their engagement in our schools and classrooms.”