A para-educator at a school in Grinnell, Iowa has some explaining to do. Two mixed-race kids say that the teacher told them they had no business going to school with white kids.
Geoff Burd told KCCI in Des Moines about what he described as an “unbelievable situation” that took place at Bailey Park Elementary School in Grinnell last week. Burd and his fiancee, Annie Miller, claim that a para-educator at the school made some horribly racist comments to Burd’s children, Nikki and Marquez. Watch here.
According to Burd, Nikki told him that the 60-year-old para-educator told him that blacks “should not go to this school” and “should have their own school.” Burd said that Nikki told him that the woman took a swipe at Nikki’s mixed-race heritage, saying that “black people and white people can’t be family.” Burd said that Marquez told him that later in the day, the same woman told him that blacks were “stupid and don’t know anything.”
Like any parents whose kids claimed to hear this kind of racist pigweed, Burd and Miller were visibly shaken. Burd was fighting to keep his composure while relating what he says Nikki and Marquez told him. In a colossal understatement, Miller said it was “crazy” that anyone would dare say something like this to a child in 2015. Speaking as a black man who has mostly dated white women, I have to say that they handled it far better than I would. If anyone said this to my kids, I would have turned the walls of the principal’s office brown.
When Grinnell-Newburg Consolidated School District officials learned about the alleged incident, they put the para-educator on paid administrative leave pending what superintendent Todd Abrahamson described as “a level one investigation.”
Under Iowa Department of Education policy, whenever someone alleges abusive behavior by a school employee, that allegation is first informally investigated by a school board-designated level one investigator who determines whether it is likely the incident took place. If the investigator finds that there is a preponderance of evidence that the incident indeed occurred, he forwards his report to a level-two investigator for a fuller investigation. KCCI tried to talk to the para-educator, but a man who answered the door denied that the woman was on administrative leave.
Abrahamson said that the level one investigation should be completed by this week. Not surprisingly, Burd has let it be known that when all is said and done, the para-educator should be fired. Like any parent who has gone though a similar ordeal, he is very concerned for the hit that Nikki and Marquez’ “emotional stability” has taken as a result of the bigotry allegedly directed at them.
Burd was the target of a flame war on KCCI’s website, with some commenters claiming that he shouldn’t be taken seriously because of a past criminal history. This story should not be about Burd’s past, but about an alleged act of racist bigotry. If it does turn out that this incident happened, this woman needs to be fired as soon as legally possible–but not before giving a public apology to Nikki, Marquez and their parents.