A substitute teacher in a Chicago suburb is being accused of using a racial slur when speaking to a group of eighth graders.
Four 13-year-old students at Jay Stream Middle School in Carol Stream say they were in a social studies class working on a project about the Cold War last Wednesday when a substitute teacher approached them and called them "African American." But what she allegedly said after that brought some of the students to tears.
"All four of us that were sitting there got offended because none of us are from Africa. I’m Jamaican. So we said, 'Can you please not call us that?” said student Mea Thompson. “She continued to call us that and said, 'It’s the politically correct term.' Then she said, 'Well, back then you guys would be considered the N-word."
The students said they were appalled to hear the teacher use the racial slur in the classroom.
"We were so shocked and we were like, 'What? Excuse me?'" said Thompson. "She was like, 'Well, back then that’s what African Americans were called.'"
The students said the teacher used the slur repeatedly over the 80-minute class period, also referring to them as slaves. One student threw down her books and others started crying, the students claim.
"I just want people to know how much it affected us and I don’t want this to happen to anybody else," said student Zaria Daniel.
On Tuesday afternoon, the school district confirmed the teacher had been interviewed and corroborated the girls’ description of what happened. A district spokesperson said the substitute teacher will not be asked back to the school.
But Thompson’s mother, Shayna Thompson, says the punishment isn’t enough.
"After the shock and hurt, I’m angry," she said. "It’s a new world, and the people of the past that still hang onto hatred and bigotry don’t belong in this world anymore."
She said she is looking into whether the teacher can be charged with disorderly conduct or if the incident may be considered a hate crime.
Carol Stream Police also said they are aware of the incident and are investigating.