(FOLSOM) – The family of a local teen has filed a formal complaint with his school after a teacher’s controversial comment about lynching.
Tyler McIntyre, an eighth grade student at Folsom’s Sutter Middle School, says that on November 2, his American History class was collectively grading a test they’d taken on the U.S. Constitution. One of the questions was to define equality. The teacher, Woody Hart, he says, states that “equality means treating everyone equally,” and goes on to give the example, “like when you hang one Black person, you have to hang them all, that’s equality.”
McIntyre, 13, says every other student turned around and looked at him, the only Black boy in the room, eager to see how he’d respond to the teacher’s remarks. He’d been there before, feeling as if all eyes were on him, as he’s one of only a few students of color at the middle school. He says he’s gotten into arguments and fist fights with other students who have told him to “go sit in the back of the bus,” have called him the N-word and frequently use the racial slur in his presence.
“They think it’s fine to just use it,” he said.
After school on November 2, a “distraught” McIntyre told his mother what had happened in class. His mother then told his dad, when he got home from work.
“He didn’t want to open up, I gather he was embarrassed,” says Tyler’s father, Ty McIntyre.
The elder McIntyres each tried contacting different school officials. They said they were told by one official that Hart’s comments “didn’t come as a surprise” and that the only reason he was still in the classroom was “because he has tenure.”
“He thinks it’s OK to say these things without any regard to how anyone feels,” Ty McIntyre said.
Principal Keri Phillips told The OBSERVER that she was “still working on a response to the matter” before deferring to district spokesperson Daniel Thigpen for further comment.
“We take any and all complaints of that nature very seriously,” Thigpen said.
The school, he says, has 10 days from the time the formal complaint was filed to respond to the family. From their initial followup, it’s believed that Hart made the comments in the context of the day’s lesson. However, racism, he says, is “never tolerated.” He says the district makes a concerted effort to offer trainings for teachers on a “variety of dynamics” including culturally appropriate lessons and class dialogue on topics that can be “delicate.”
According to Folsom Cordova Unified School District data provided by Thigpen, Sutter Middle School has 1,516 students. Fifty-four are African American. There are 120 staff members, three of which are African American– one counselor, one instructional aide and one custodian.
Ty McIntyre says he grew up in Rancho Cordova and when he got married and had children, he wanted to raise them in a nicer area, one that had “good schools” where they could “thrive academically.”
Tyler McIntyre says he’s come to “hate that school” and some would ask why Black parents send their children into settings where they are in such a minority. Ty McIntyre says he works hard to be able to live wherever he chooses.The local corrections officer says he teaches Tyler, and his younger brother, to be aware of who they are as bi-racial young men, seen by many simply as Black, and to show Tyler that the lack of diversity that he experiences at school and in their neighborhood is a “microcosm of society” that he’ll have to live with.
“But, racism isn’t something he should be accustomed to,” dad states emphatically.
While school officials did move Tyler into another class following the family’s initial complaint, his father says the issue is deeper than that.
“I just wanted it to be exposed. I didn’t want them to be able to cast it aside,” Ty McIntyre said.
The family has contacted the Sacramento NAACP and is gathering statements from former Hart students to show a pattern of behavior.
By: Genoa Barrow
OBSERVER Senior Staff Writer