Posted inEducation

Fort Worth ISD’s handling of racial slur video widens distrust, Black community leaders say

A teacher who allowed a Paschal High School student to use the n-word multiple times during a class presentation in April no longer works for Fort Worth ISD, a district spokesperson told the Fort Worth Report.

However, Black community leaders expressed frustrations at the district’s lack of communication over the situation.

The district did not update the community leaders who spoke out right after the racial slur incident.

“There’s a widening chasm of distrust between the minority communities and Fort Worth ISD, the (school) board especially,” said the Rev. Michael Bell, spokesman for the Tarrant County Local Organizing Committee. Bell and other Black community leaders held a press conference outside Paschal High School shortly after the racist video surfaced.

The Rev. Kyev Tatum, president of the Ministers of Justice Coalition of Texas, expressed outrage and also held a press conference shortly after the racial incident in April. Tatum’s group also demanded that the district fire the teacher.

Tatum found out the status of the teacher only through another community member.

The district “allowed the teacher to quietly resign, so she could get another job somewhere else,” Tatum said. “If it were one of us, (the district) would have fired us and then put a block so that we don’t get a job somewhere else.” 

A district spokesperson did not respond to the Report’s inquiry on whether the teacher was fired or resigned and when her exit happened. 

The district can’t provide information on any disciplinary or other action against the student because of Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, the district spokesperson said. 

Shortly after the incident, Superintendent Kent Scribner said in a statement that he planned to fire the teacher.

The incident is one in a series of race-related issues the district has encountered. The school board fired a teacher from Amon Carter-Riverside High School, 3301 Yucca Ave, in 2019, after the teacher asked then-President Donald Trump on Twitter to remove “illegal” students from Mexico at the school. 

Meanwhile, the district also is the focus of a protest organized by the For Liberty and Justice organization. The organization contends the district is improperly teaching critical race theory and called for the disbandment of the district’s Racial Equity Committee and the Division of Equity and Excellence. 

In recent weeks, Tatum organized a youth rally July 14 at Morningside Middle School, 2751 Mississippi Ave., to address gun violence and prevention. The district did not let any media, including the Report, into the building to cover the event. 

By banning media coverage of the gun violence and prevention event, the district is hindering the betterment of the youth in the community, Tatum said. 

The district did not allow press to attend the event because it was not a district-sponsored event, a spokesperson said.  

Bell, like Tatum, said the school district did not update him about the status of the teacher. He found out the teacher was no longer working for the district through Fort Worth ISD staff, Bell said.

After the incident, Bell and other Fort Worth religious leaders drafted a list of actions for the district. The demands included:

  • Release demographic data of the school, staff and its Advanced Placement classes.
  • Offer racial sensitivity training for staff.
  • Provide counseling for students.

Bell tried to get in touch with the district over the past three months since the incident but had no luck.

“We have received zero communication from Fort Worth ISD regarding those demands,” Bell said. 

Now, Bell is hoping to communicate through school board members, such as Quinton Phillips, Wallace Bridges and Roxanne Martinez. Martinez and Phillips did not respond to a request for comment.

Bridges said he and Bell have not talked about the district’s communication effort. Bridges, a new trustee, said the district should do a “gazillion” listening sessions to hear from residents.

“When people feel like they’re not being heard, or not being listened to, it changes their perspectives such that you don’t value them. You don’t really think what the issue that they’re dealing with is important,” Bridges said. 

To prevent future racist incidents from happening, the district should provide teachers with multicultural training, Bell said, as the majority of students from the district are minorities while most of the teachers are white.

As the Fort Worth ISD school board continues its search for a new superintendent, Bell said, the district should look for someone who is competent in working in a multicultural, educational environment. 

“I’m literally hoping against hope that somehow the school board will make the right decision,” Bell said. “That they will listen rather than push through a candidate that is going to just do what those in downtown wants, as opposed to someone who’s going to come in there and do what’s best for our children.”

Chongyang Zhang is a summer fellow reporter for the Fort Worth Report. Contact him at or via Twitter

At the Fort Worth Report, news decisions are made independently of our board members and financial supporters. Read more about our editorial independence policy here.

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