A white geometry teacher at a Beaumont, Texas high school has been arrested and charged with one count of assault for hitting a black student multiple times. The incident was caught on video and shared widely on Twitter last week.
The student may have asked about a grade, according to the Washington Post. The teacher yelled at him in response, saying, “Because you’re stopping him from graduating, you idiot ass!” and hit him five times. She then mocked the student when he asked why she hit him.
It’s not clear exactly what happened before the assault. The teacher was placed on administrative leave after school district officials verified the incident.
“The conduct was substantiated by video footage viewed by BISD police and administration,” Beaumont Independent School District confirmed in a statement. “The District is committed to providing a safe and secure environment for our students. BISD does not condone employees abusing any child and will not tolerate such conduct. The teacher was immediately removed from the classroom and placed on administrative leave pending action on her contract.”
The student in the video attends a school where 98 percent of students are students of color and 81 percent are economically disadvantaged, according to U.S. News and World Report.
With the ability to easily take photos and videos on smartphones, more footage of students being assaulted by teachers or by other school employees have appeared online. Once circulated on social media, these videos have offered some method of accountability and have spread more awareness of the way some students are treated in school — especially when those school employees are white and the student population is predominantly black and Hispanic.
Just a few days earlier, a different video surfaced of a school district police officer slamming a 12-year-old Latina student to the ground at a San Antonio Independent School District school, prompting an investigation into a case of excessive force, MySanAntonio.com reported. The officer has been put on administrative leave as the school investigates.
And in February, Success Academy, a prestigious network of charter schools in New York City, faced criticism after a video taken by an assistant teacher was provided to The New York Times showing a “model teacher” berating a student and tearing up her paper after she struggled with a math problem. The teacher was suspended and later returned to work after an internal investigation of the incident. According to the Success Academy website, 93 percent of students are students of color, 76 percent are from low-income households, and 8.5 percent are English language learners.
These anecdotes are backed up by data. Research has shown that teachers interpret certain behaviors differently when they come from students of color, which leads them to punish those students more. Stanford University researchers found that when a black student committed a second infraction, teachers thought they deserved a more severe level of discipline than white students who did the same. Female students of color and Latino students are disproportionately more likely to be suspended, according to a 2014 report by the Discipline Disparities Research-to-Practice Collaborative, and black students are almost twice as likely as their white peers to face suspension. Students with disabilities are also punished more, especially if they are black.
The police officer who slammed a 12-year-old student to the ground at a San Antonio Independent School District middle school has been fired, reported The New York Times.