RACINE — A local mother is “appalled” that a Racine Unified elementary school teacher allegedly called her son “racist” but she has so far not talked with the teacher about the incident.
Instead, Breann Hooser has spoken about it with district officials, transferred her son to a different Unified school, contacted local media and called for the teacher’s removal from the classroom. Hooser has also asked legislators to revise state laws to make educators’ personnel records public.
“I’m very concerned we’re not allowed to know what happens with the teachers. I’m appalled this teacher did not lose any work,” said Hooser, 32, of Racine, a stay-at-home mom. “I don’t know if she was talked to, if she was reprimanded, if she was suspended.”
The incident in question happened on March 23 at Knapp Elementary School, 2701 17th St., when Hooser’s fourth-grade son, who is white, completed a class assignment by writing, “I like country music because I’m a redneck hillbilly,” Hooser said.
The teacher, who is black, then told the boy in front of the class that “redneck” was racist against black people, Hooser said.
“To us, it’s a family joke,” Hooser said, explaining they use the term “redneck” to make fun of themselves for being “country.” “It wasn’t meant to be offensive.”
Hooser has not talked to the teacher, instead going straight to Knapp Principal Alan Harris because she wanted a mediator involved, she said. Harris set up a meeting for him, the teacher and Hooser, but Hooser did not attend because she was so upset the teacher was still teaching after the incident. Based on that fact and the flak her son was now taking from classmates, Hooser transferred him to another Unified school, she said.
Hooser has also written “hundreds” of emails to state legislators asking laws be changed to allow parents access to teachers’ personnel files, including any disciplinary actions and the outcomes of any investigations, Hooser said.
State law prohibits the district from releasing personnel records though sometimes Unified and the employee may issue a joint statement about an incident, said district spokeswoman Stacy Tapp.
Regarding this incident, Tapp could only say no formal complaint has been filed. Without a formal complaint, a teacher would not be placed on leave and usually a formal investigation would not be initiated, Tapp said.
The teacher is still working in the classroom and there was no formal investigation in this case, especially because the child was successfully transferred to another school, Tapp said.