N-Word vs. Negro: Principal Suspended for Her Explanation

By Albert Lin


A Washington state elementary-school principal has been placed on paid administrative leave after she used the N-word multiple times in conversations with a biracial student and his parents.

Claudia Alves, Principal of Poulsbo Elementary School, was put on paid administrative leave on Jan. 21, according to North Kitsap School District Superintendent Patty Page. An independent investigator is looking into the situation, but Page told the North Kitsap Herald that the move is not considered a disciplinary matter. In an email to parents, Page wrote, “Providing a positive learning environment for every child is very important to us.”

On Jan. 15, Jassiah Smith, an 11-year-old fifth-grader, and his classmates questioned the use of the word Negro in a play for Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Alves tried to explain that the word is not the same as the N-word. “I said I understood that he would never use the N-word, but this is very different,” Alves told the Herald. “What the play is about is the Jim Crow laws, and they used the word ‘Negro.'”

The problem Alves actually used the N-word. Jassiah’s mother, Shawna Smith, called the next day to complain, saying that she is not sure why the N-word is not held to the same standard as curse words. In her conversation with Alves, Shawna Smith says that Alves used the N-word two more times.

When Alves called the boy’s father, Matthew Smith, who is Black, a few days later to apologize, she used the N-word again.

Shawna Smith says she doesn’t want Alves to lose her job and called her “a great woman.” She also says that she has begun to hear whispers about her son and her family around town, and that some people have turned the issue into a “personal attack.”

“I just hope this all ends soon,” she said.

Interestingly, Smith is scheduled to begin work as a substitute secretary for the school district, and Matthew Smith coached the North Kitsap High School boys’ basketball team for four years.

Alves has her share of support. A member of the Poulsbo Elementary’s PTSA told KOMO-TV, “We all felt like it was a teachable moment, and know that [Alves] would never use this word casually, loosely. She was using it within historical context. Everyone that I was with was in support of the principal.”

Former CNN commentator Roland Martin, who is Black, blasted the controversy on his new show, NewsOne Now: “This, to me, is stupid. If you have a teacher, who is trying to teach, and explaining the N-word and Negro, and throw in colored and let’s say throw in African-American, why do you suspend somebody who is trying to teach”

Latest News

Parents protest over Critical Race Theory education in schools

Florida Legislature Issues Initial Approval of Bill That Would Prohibit White ‘Discomfort’ During Black History Education

Even though the Florida Department of Education has already banned the classroom teaching of Critical Race Theory, lawmakers in the state are attempting to go even further, passing a law to protect whites’ “feelings” during education dealing with Black history.  Amy Simonson of CNN reported that a bill backed by…

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell

Mitch McConnell Under Fire for Claiming Black Americans Are Not ‘Americans’

As the battle to protect voting rights continues in the nation’s capital — sadly with little success — veteran politician and minority leader of the U.S. Senate, Mitch McConnell, has come under fire for a statement he made that implied Black Americans were not “full” Americans. Bruce Schreiner of The…

Toyota Earns the Most R&D Patents Among Automakers in IPO Rankings for 8th Consecutive Year

Originally published at pressroom.toyota.com. Toyota ranked No. 7 on The DiversityInc Top 50 Companies for Diversity list in 2021.   The United States Patent and Trademark Office awarded Toyota more patents than any other automaker in 2021, according to an annual ranking by the Intellectual Property Owners Association (IPO). Toyota’s engineers…

Wells Fargo Announces New Initiative To Help Customers Avoid Overdraft Fees and Meet Short-Term Cash Needs

Originally published at newsroom.wf.com. Wells Fargo ranked No. 25 on The DiversityInc Top 50 Companies for Diversity list in 2021.   Wells Fargo announced new efforts to limit overdraft-related fees and give customers more flexible options to meet their personal financial needs. These offerings, which include earlier access to direct deposits,…