A middle school teacher has come under fire after he used a lynching analogy to explain the idea of equality under the US Constitution.
Woody Hart told his eighth-grade history class, ‘When you hang one black person, you have to hang them all. That is equality,’ according to a complaint filed by student Tyler McIntyre’s parents, Victoria and Tyrie McIntyre.
But district officials said Hart, who teaches at Sutter Middle School in Folsom, California, was making a point about the how states treated individuals under the Constitution.
The incident occurred on November 2, when another student asked for a definition of equality while they were grading a test in class.
Hart who later said he was trying to make the discussion ‘interesting’, claims he said, ‘If you hang black people in the South, that means that you hang any black person who comes from outside the state,’ the Sacramento Bee reported.
‘The teacher’s intended context was in the history of the classroom lesson around states’ treatment of certain individuals under the constitution,’ said Daniel Thigpen, spokesman for the district.
Tyler said the entire class turned around to gauge his reaction as the only black student in the room, and he recounted instances of racism at the school, like being told to sit at the back of the bus, or being called the ‘n-word’.
Tyler’s mother called the comments ‘disturbing’ and his parents contacted school officials and filed a complaint.
Tyrie McIntyre, who works as a corrections officer, told the Bee: ‘My issue wasn’t the context. It was the content. There was no way to justify the statement that he made.’
‘They’re young and impressionable and they’re relying on responsible adults to teach them properly and that’s not what’s happening with his teacher unfortunately,’ Tyrie told CBS.
Tyrie also said he previously refused his son’s requests to be removed from the class, telling the 13-year-old he couldn’t just change teachers every time he disagreed with what they were saying.
But the incident on November 2 proved to be too much, and Tyler is now in a different history class.
Tyrie said he didn’t think Hart should lose his job, but told FOX: ‘It’s more hurtful than anything. That there’d be an adult in a position of authority that would express these views to a child.’
The school district has warned Hart for using ‘culturally insensitive language’, and Principal Keri Phillips said Hart should stick to ‘very simple analogies’ in the future.
The district is prohibited by law to disclose any potential disciplinary actions.