Illinois School Board Fires Principal Who Banned Black Student from Attending Prom Over Spoken Word Poem

Former Homewood-Floosmoor Principal Ryan Pitcock (left) and the student he barred from prom, Taiylar Ball. Images courtesy of Daily Southtown/Twitter.

Former Homewood-Floosmoor Principal Ryan Pitcock (left) and the student he barred from prom, Taiylar Ball. Images courtesy of Daily Southtown/Twitter.

A suburban Chicago high school made headlines earlier this year after its principal barred an African-American student from prom over an “offensive” poem she read at a talent show. Now, it looks like that principal is out of a job.

Homewood-Flossmoor Principal Ryan Pitcock was fired Tuesday at a school board meeting, the Chicago Tribune reports. Pitcock’s termination prompted the resignation of  school board member David Mayer.

The official reason for the principal’s firing remains unknown, but it comes just weeks after Pitcock banned 18-year-old student Taiylar Ball from attending prom. He claimed Ball used profanity and “offensive” language in a poem she read at the school talent show titled “Dear Black Girls.”

“You’re only feeling me when my chocolate skin is shining with coconut oil, flexing with my t*ts out on Twitter,” Ball said in a line of her poem. According to The Root, she also used the word “nigga” while speaking on the misogyny and disrespect of Black women.

Ball said she was asked to leave school following her performance and later received a call saying she wasn’t allowed to attend prom. When she showed up to the soirée anyway, district officials turned her away at the door, the Chicago Tribune reports.

Amid the backlash, Homewood-Flossmoor’s director of human resources and public relations, Jodi Bryant, issued a statement that read, “There were many amazing performances at the talent show, including this student’s powerfully written and delivered spoken word. It is unfortunate that it included additional content that was not previously approved by the audition committee at the dress rehearsal and was not within the school’s guidelines.”

According to the Chicago Tribune, Ball admitted her poem wasn’t finished until the day of the talent show, so the audition committee didn’t have a chance to review it. She later acknowledged she should’ve reached out for approval, but said the sponsor “who knew she hadn’t finished the piece” also should have contacted her prior to the performance.

“We both dropped the ball,” the high school senior told local paper the Daily Southtown.

In a letter sent to parents concerning Pitcock’s termination, the school board disclosed that it had voted to buy out the last year of the principal’s four-year contract. Pitcock will continue to be paid his salary and benefits until June 30, 2017, the Chicago Tribune reports.

“As a board, we acted in the best interest of our staff, community and students,” said Board President Richard Lites.

The school is currently in search of a new principal.

Meanwhile, Ball is headed to Florida A&M University in the fall where she plans to study biology, Jet reports. The honor graduate received over $1 million in scholarships and was accepted into 11 colleges and universities.

According to the Chicago Tribune, it took a series of meetings with district and school officials before Ball was even allowed to walk at her own graduation.

She has since performed her “infamous” poem for her new college classmates, after which she received a favorable response, The Root reports.

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