A middle school teacher in Minnesota has been placed on leave after a video showing her using a racial slur while speaking to students went viral, according to the district earlier this week.
Saint Paul Public Schools Superintendent Joe Gothard promised to take aggressive action after footage was posted online of teacher Wendy Brilowski using the N-word toward her Highland Park Middle School students.
Brilowski can be heard saying ” f—— n——” in the video, which the district verified as being authentic to NBC News. Another staff member tried to excuse the behavior, saying, “she’s repeating what you’re saying” after the slur was used, but the short video clip does not show any students speaking prior to the teacher’s comments.
The district did not provide more detail on the context of what happened before or after the video was taken, but did confirm the incident occurred during school hours. Gothard also apologized in a video to parents, adding that foul and racist language has no place in the district.
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“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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Brandy Coleman, the mother of one of the students, told NBC-affiliate KARE that the video was the boiling point of tensions between Brilowski and her daughter that had been simmering over the past couple of months. According to her daughter, the teacher had previously called her and other students “negroes,” the mother told KARE.
“It breaks my heart that I didn’t know the magnitude of the situation so that I could intervene before that video,” Coleman said.
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