Substitute teacher accused of racist comments

Kraft Meadows Middle School. (March 4, 2014)

CALEDONIA, Mich. (WOOD) – A substitute who was teaching in Caledonia Community Schools is accused of using racial slurs toward students in a classroom.

Superintendent Randy Rodriguez told 24 Hour News 8 the substitute is under investigation and is not slated to work in the district again.

Carri Briggs told 24 Hour News 8 that her children were in their sixth-grade classroom at Kraft Meadows Middle School when the incident happened.

“You could tell that they were upset and distraught about it that all if this had happened at school,” Briggs told 24 Hour News 8 Tuesday.

Briggs said her kids, and their 11- and 12-year-old classmates, say they saw the substitute teacher single out a few students, separate them from the other students and verbally berate them.

“The kids that were singled out and had to endure this, it’s devastating for them. I can’t even imagine what they’re going through,” Briggs said.

The substitute allegedly used the N-word to refer to a student and also allegedly made disparaging religious and cultural remarks to other students.

“We had [people] say that she did say some of those things,” Superintendent Rodriguez confirmed to 24 Hour News 8 in a Tuesday phone interview.

“We spend so much energy in trying to get away from that, from the bullying and the racism, and, you know, for a person in authority to come in and just tear that down in a matter of minutes for these children,” said Briggs. “Luckily these children have been through enough lessons of it that they knew to go to a teacher.”

Briggs said there is no excuse for that type of language and behavior.

“There is absolutely no incident whatsoever that you can call a person the N-word for anything. There just there isn’t,” she said.

She said she sees a silver lining — that her son and the other students in the class reported the substitute’s alleged inappropriate behavior to the school principal.

“Even my son said, ‘Mom, we did something good today.’ And I said, ‘You know what, buddy? I’m proud of you. I’m proud of you for standing up for the other children,'” Briggs said.
She also had a message for other parents.

“Believe in your children when they say stuff to you, even if it’s totally out of the ordinary, or just, you know, so exaggerated. ‘No, it can’t happen in our community’ —  It does happen,” said Briggs.

Superintendent Rodriguez declined to speak on camera or reveal any more information than he already had about the matter until the district wraps up its investigation.

He described the case as “pretty unique.”

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