A mother has filed a legal claim against a California school district after she said a teacher went on a racist rant against her son during a Zoom call.
Katura Stokes, who is Black, filed a damage claim on Thursday against the Palmdale School District, saying a white teacher went on a rant against her 12-year-old son, who is a student at Desert Willow Fine Arts, Science and Technology Magnet Academy, The Orange County Register reported.
“The horrible comments the teacher made in the video are truly heartbreaking for a mother to hear and for her young son to hear,” said John Taylor, Stokes’ attorney, according to the publication. “It’s unthinkable that an educator would mock and belittle this family, and there is no doubt that this incident has scarred them.”
Stokes said she and her son met with his sixth grade teacher Kimberly Newman on Jan. 20 in a Zoom conference to talk about how he was struggling with the online learning platform, The Los Angeles Times reported. When Stokes thought the Zoom call was over, she said she heard Newman say Stokes’ son made excuses and lied because “this is what Black people do,” the Times reported.
In a video obtained by The OC Register, a woman is heard saying, “Your son has learned to lie to everybody and make excuses ... to be a child. Since you’ve taught him to make excuses that nothing is his fault. This is what Black people do.” Newman also used racial epithets against the family, according to the publication.
Stokes recorded the call on her cell phone and has filed a claim against the school district for negligence, civil rights violations, defamation and infliction of emotional distress, The Los Angeles Times reported. Stokes has called on the school to “improve racial sensitivity training” and investigate whether there is discrimination at the school beyond their incident.
Palmdale district spokesperson David Garcia said the call was a “gross, professional misconduct of a now former Palmdale teacher,” Antelope Valley Press reported.
Newman resigned after a family member contacted the school’s principal, who told the district office, according to the publication. Newman had been ordered to appear before Palmdale’s superintendent and was placed on administrative leave, but resigned rather than participate in an investigation.
“I’m here to tell you that this school board, this district and this community will not tolerate this behavior,” said Ralph Velador, Palmdale’s school board president, the publication reported.