The parents of a young Garner, N.C., student are up in arms over what a substitute teacher told him Friday about his attire.
Billy Byrd’s son, Nathan, came home from Rand Road Elementary School Feb. 8 after being in music class where a substitute teacher had been filling in. What he told his father happened led Billy to take to Facebook and air out his issues with the instructor.
“She told my son and his fellow male peers of color that their clothing marked them for PRISON…..YES PRISON!” the father wrote on the social media website that day, identifying the teacher as Elizabeth Temple. “To wear athletic apparel while being BLACK is obviously a MARK for long term imprisonment these days by racist radicals portraying to be godly and upright conservative Christians.”
Speaking to WRAL about what happened, Nathan said the teacher took aim at him.
“She basically targeted me,” he said. “She said, ‘If Y’all keep doing what you’re doing, you’re going to go to jail.’ So, I stood up in front of the class and I said, ‘So, you’re basically going to predict my future that hasn’t even happened yet?’”
“We always dress him with the best attire we can afford,” Nathan told ABC11 Tuesday. “For her to say that him having athletic wear or attire on was going to put him in a position to go to prison, that really bothered me the most.”
The 10-year-old added to WRAL that the teacher mentioned President Donald Trump and politics, which led him and other students to file a report with school officials.
Additionally, the sub was accused of telling students that the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.was false, something Billy spoke to in his Facebook post.
“This lady went as far as teaching the children in the MUSIC CLASS that Martin Luther King Jr. actually COMMITTED Suicide & that him being assassinated was a complete fabrication!!!!!” he said. “The principal assured me that this individual would NOT return to my children’s place of study ever again and that she was going try to prevent her from ever stepping foot into a WAKE COUNTY PUBLIC SCHOOL ever again!”
“I was in shock,” Nyla Byrd, Nathan’s mother, told the news station. “I can’t believe that this actually took place. We hear about it all the time, but you never imagine it happening to you. … I was just speechless for a while.”
Nyla’s husband explained he wanted to share the incident online in order to combat the discrimination his son and other pupils dealt with.
“When racism hits your door, you only have two options,” he said. “And for me personally, I think you can either open the door and let it come in and submit to the foolish behavior … or, you can resist and fight back. In my position as a father, and as an African-American man, my position is to fight back.”
In a statement, Wake County Public School System said despite administrators meeting with students about the instructor’s remarks, they were unable to come to a conclusion.
“Late Friday afternoon, the principal and staff at Rand Road Elementary talked with several students about comments made by a substitute teacher,” the statement read. “The day ended before staff was able to fully understand what happened so additional conversations will take place Monday.”
By Tuesday, a spokesperson with the district said the teacher in question had resigned. Her status had previously been “frozen” while an investigation into the matter was underway, a representative told ABC 11.
As for what Nathan’s dad hoped to happen, he said he doesn’t want the sub instructing any other kids unless she takes needed steps moving ahead.
“I forgive you. I don’t have no hatred towards you,” he said. “However, I do feel that you should not have the ability to teach any children until you get the necessary help you need going forward”