Student calls out school leaders after recording KCS employee using racial slur in class

In the video obtained by WVLT News, the teacher defended why he used the derogatory word to other adults and students in the classroom.
Published: Mar. 30, 2023 at 12:44 AM EDT
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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - A cell-phone video recording made its rounds on social media and has some South-Doyle High School students calling out school leaders.

On Wednesday, 16-year-old Hero Lawson told WVLT News she pulled out her phone to record her chemistry teacher who she told WVLT News repeatedly used a racial slur in class Monday morning. Then, used the word again in front of another adult.

“He said it the first time and bam we were on him,” Lawson said.

In the video, obtained by WVLT News, the teacher defended why he used the word to other adults and students in the classroom. He explained he was repeating what students were saying and that the word is in the “English language.”

Students plead with the employee to stop.

“From the looks of their faces, there was a certain type of anger that they were bringing out that you could tell it was hurt,” Lawson said. “It was not just anger. It was flat out hurt. And, you could hear it in their voices when they are pleading for this guy to shut up. Just stop.”

WVLT News reached out to Knox County Schools representative and School Board Chair Kristi Kristy. In a statement, both only confirm an employee was on administrative leave, pending an investigation and that, “Knox County Schools does not tolerate any instances of racism.”

Some parents, including Lawson’s mother described the matter as unacceptable and inappropriate.

“These are our children you know from the time they’re in kindergarten to the time they graduate high school. We entrust complete strangers to help our children become the best they can be,” she said. “We’re all pieces to a puzzle. You know, we’re all different.”

While KCS investigates, Lawson is asking for an apology on behalf of her classmates who were offended by the slur.

Knox County School leaders said they were not able to comment on the matter during the on-going investigation. WVLT News has asked for the teacher’s employment record.