The principal of a Texas elementary school is facing backlash this week after she made insensitive remarks about a Black special needs student in front of other staff members.
Ponderosa Elementary School principal Shanna Swearingen has taken “full responsibility” for her words and apologized to students for comments she made on April 17, according to Click2Houston. Swearingen made a tasteless “joke” to three staff members about a special needs boy with behavioral issues and is known to run from class, saying, “We won’t chase him. We’ll call the police and tell them he has a gun so they can come faster.”
News of the principal’s offensive comment spread on social media, angering parents. Some have already called for Swearingen’s resignation while others demanded disciplinary action that includes sensitivity training.
“It is disgusting. That kind of comment is disgusting even if it was a joke how could you recant something like that?” parent Jessica Spoonemore told the news station. “Children are getting killed by gun violence and that was very unnecessary and disturbing especially for an elementary school.”
Still, there were parents who had a hard time believing such words came flying out of Swearingen’s mouth. School PTA president Michael Burnett said he first read about her comments on a Facebook group and said the remarks don’t align with her character.
“I don’t believe that it’s fair for people to take to social media on something that’s hearsay,” Burnett told Click2Houston. “I think the best thing would have been to come to her and ask the question.”
Another parent, Amber Cade, described Swearingen as a “good principal.”
“She helped me out when my daughter had some issues,” said Cade. “She is always out here greeting students. She’s a good principal — so I just hope that someone maybe just overreacted.”
Spring Independent School District released a statement addressing the controversy Monday, saying it would continue monitoring the environment at Ponderosa to ensure something like this never happens again.
“We’re aware of the situation regarding a thoughtless and insensitive comment made by the Ponderosa Elementary School principal to three staff members,” district officials said. “As a diverse district committed to dignity and respect for all, we take this incident very seriously.”
Swearingen also released a statement of her own:
“It’s with a heavy heart that I write this message. I made an insensitive comment that was not reflective of who I am nor how much I care about every student who attends this school … Your children mean the world to me, and I’m heartbroken that my thoughtless remark has caused disruption to the hard work underway here at Ponderosa.
I am truly sorry for the comment I made. It does not in any way reflect the love and care I have for the students of Ponderosa.”