Racial slur used by substitute teacher triggers Farmington Hills student walk out

Posted at 11:27 PM, Feb 10, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-11 14:46:36-05

FARMINGTON HILLS, Mich. (WXYZ) — Students at Farmington Hills High School staged a walk out after a substitute teacher used a racial slur in a classroom.

District leaders say it happened Thursday morning.

Some parents say they are disappointed but not surprised.

“We are tired, we are tired," Keiona Turner said.

Her 10th grader attends Farmington High School.

Turner says she's sick and tired of the racism, especially after watching the video that took place inside her son's school.

In a video shared with 7 Action News, you can hear a woman, who we are told is a substitute teacher, direct a student to remove his hands from an object in the classroom.

The woman being recorded says, “Get your cotton picking hands off ..."

She refers to the African American students' hands.

It’s term that dates back to slavery.

“We have known that our ancestors have had to pick cotton. We are in the north, so there wasn’t much cotton picking up here. So, this is something that had to be ingrained in this person," Turner explained.

In a letter sent to parents, the school district says the substitute teacher was immediately removed from the building and will not return to Farmington High School or any school in the district.

Within minutes, the video was shared and the students planned a walk out in protest.

High schoolers chanted “Black Lives Matter” as they marched to downtown Farmington toward the school district office.

Turners' 10th grader was in the protest that school leaders tell us was done safely.

"We thank both the Farmington Hills Police Department and the Farmington Public Safety Department for assisting us with this effort," Superintendent Christopher J. Delgado said.

“I’m proud of the students who took a stand and decided that they were tired of hearing racists things," Turner said.

Delgado continues to say, "While we can conduct background checks and fingerprint for substitute teachers, we cannot screen for what's in their hearts and minds. If you harbor racist feelings and do not embrace our diversity as a strength, do not apply to Farmington Public Schools."

The school district says they will run restorative circles with students to provide them an opportunity to process how they are feeling.

They also have counseling and social work support available to help students and staff.