What was supposed to be a fun game of human Scrabble ended with five white Missouri educators holding a racial slur in a photo that was posted to social media. It has caused parents and the St. Charles branch of the NAACP to call for change, KSDK5 reported.
Faculty and staff at the school insist the word wasn’t racially motivated, but parents aren’t buying it. Pastor Raymond Horry — who has two sons that attend the Christian School District private school in the St. Louis suburb of O’Fallon — described the explanation he’d been given.
“They were playing around and they were trying to spell raccoon, but they didn’t have the ‘r’ and the ‘a,’” Horry said. “I don’t believe it that five Caucasian teachers, not one of them knew that. Now maybe one didn’t know it, maybe two didn’t know it, but all five didn’t know it?”
Horry, other parents and community leaders told KSDK5 they were speechless that such a word would be used by educators.
“I’m angry, I’m hurt because I trust you with my child,” another parent who has a teenage son in the district told the station. “He absolutely told me, ‘Mom, I’m tired of it, do what you need to do because this is not fair and I’m tired of feeling like this.’”
Christian High School alum and basketball coach John Smith, however, said the photo wasn’t a reflection of their values.
“This isn’t our school; this was a mistake,” Smith told KSDK5. “Everybody in the world makes mistakes. Everybody in the world has faults and this is just a little fault that we’ve had. This is not our school. I truly believe that they did not know what they were posting.”
Social media users also expressed shock at the photo. “Wild times we are living in. Just when you think you’ve seen it all,” @CoachReed314 tweeted. “Wow… ok,” added @alex_joseph14. “Some people just don’t have a lot of intelligence or common sense. Not sure if these people are smart enough to be educators,” @malonespeaking wrote.
The school district apologized for the photo in a statement. It also said it was investigating the incident and would take disciplinary actions deemed appropriate once the investigation is complete.
“We recognize that this ill-informed action caused hurt and offense to many students and families in our school and in the wider community. We offer no excuse as to why this word was used,” the statement said. “In a statement to families last night, we apologized for the incident and sought their forgiveness. We also ask that of anyone who has been impacted by this picture.”
One parent, however, said it wasn’t enough. “It’s a blanket statement, it’s the same thing, we always have to forgive them for their transgressions because they don’t know how to handle racial issues,” the parent said.