Parents of a California middle schooler have reportedly lodged a formal complaint against their son’s teacher, after a recent lesson allegedly veered into offensive territory.
According to the Sacramento Observer, eighth grader Tyler McIntyre has accused his Sutter Middle School American History teacher of using the lynching of black people as an example when asked to explain the concept of “equality” earlier this month.
The teacher—identified by the Observer as Woody Hart—had reportedly been leading the class in a group grading project following a recent exam, in which students had been asked to define “equality.” Hart, McIntyre alleges, said that “equality means treating everyone equally,” and then explained “like when you hang one black person, you have to hang them all, that’s equality.”
McIntyre, the only black student in the classroom, was stunned.
“He was embarrassed,” Tyrie McIntyre, Tyler’s father, told local station KTXL. “He said he felt like all eyes in the classroom were on him. He just kind of wanted to be off to himself.”
A representative from the Folsom Cordova School District confirmed to station KCTV that Hart had, in fact, used “language of that nature,” but explained that the “intended context was states’ historic treatment under the constitution.”
Speaking with the Sacramento Bee, Hart said that he had spent much of the school year teaching about equality, and that his goal in this instance was to demonstrate in an intentionally provocative way how the Constitution had been written to ensure state laws are applied equally to residents and non-residents alike.
“Here’s what I said,” Hart told the Bee. “‘If you hang black people in the South, that means that you hang any black person who comes from outside the state.’”
Nevertheless, McIntyre’s family filed a formal complaint with the school district in mid-November. And while they don’t want Hart to lose his job over the comments, KTXL reported they have moved Tyler to a different class.
A district spokesperson confirmed to CBS13 that Hart had been spoken to by school officials, but would not disclose any possible disciplinary actions regarding personnel. The McIntyres, meanwhile, have reportedly begun reaching out to past students of Harts, to determine if there have been other racially insensitive incidents.
“I just wanted it to be exposed,” Tyrie McIntyre explained to the Observer. “I didn’t want them to be able to cast it aside.”