A white teacher at Van Asselt Elementary School in Seattle called the police on a Black student in her 5th-grade class. The instructor is a 27-year old white woman, and the boy is 11-years old.
The incident happened this past May.
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According to the Seattle Times, the teacher called the police after she said she was threatened by the boy to file a non-emergency report. She claimed the 5th-grader threatened to beat her up and she feared for her safety. In a recording of the 911 call, the dispatcher questioned the severity of the situation. The teacher stated the incident took place two hours before the call and that she wanted to file a “non-emergency” police report. When the dispatcher asked her did she fear for her safety, she confirmed she did. However, she disclosed that the boy didn’t make any aggressive movements towards her, just that he “puffed his chest.”
“I have a student in my class who is age 11 and said that he didn’t care that I was a woman, that he was going to beat the **** out of me,” the teacher told the dispatcher. “And he made an advance on me like he was going to do that.”
Even though the teacher claimed she felt unsafe after her claim of being threatened, she didn’t allow him to leave class after the incident.
The 911 call is below.
Educators and families at the Van Asselt school were outraged by the teacher’s actions. They accused her of practicing “racial bias.” Administrators at the school tried to persuade the unidentified woman to take another course of action, but she proceeded with the call against the recommendation of school officials.
Megan Isakson, another white teacher at Van Asselt, stated: “The visit from police cast a ‘heavy’ mood over the school, which is 40% black.”
On Monday, Principal Huyen Lam sent a letter to the staff and parents of students who attend the school. She stated she was “aware that the incident was being held up as an example of racial bias in the community.”
The staff held an open discussion regarding the implications of Black students coming in contact with police and the school’s responsibility to acknowledge and dismantle ingrained racism and bias against those students.
Manuela Slye, the co-president of the Seattle Council Parent Teacher Student Association (SCPTSA), was incensed by the teacher’s actions.
“This screams school-to-prison pipeline,” Slye said.
Even, Jimmy Hung, the head of the Juvenile Division of the King County Prosecutor’s Office weighed in on the teacher’s decision to call the cops on a 5th-grader.
“Our American culture and society have become too reliant on our criminal-justice system being the means of accountability,” Hung said. “When I was younger, if I was being stupid, the adults handled it, the schools handled it, and there wasn’t the idea that the police would be called.”
The police did eventually come to the school, but the teacher decided not to press charges. She felt the administration would punish her.
The school district claimed they “resolved” the issue with the 5th-grader’s family. The district also announced a plan to offer de-escalation training at the school.