Farmington High School students protest after substitute teacher uses racist phrase

Teacher will not work in district again, officials say

Students at Farmington High School walked out of class on Thursday in protest after they say a teacher used a racist phrase toward a Black student in class.

FARMINGTON, Mich. – Students at Farmington High School walked out of class on Thursday in protest after they say a substitute teacher used a racist phrase toward a Black student.

The teacher’s racist comment was captured on video. Students walked out and took their calls for change straight to the district superintendent at 1 p.m. on Thursday (Feb. 10).

The substitute teacher was recorded saying, “get your cotton picking hands off of it.” The comment was made in a first-hour English class toward a 16-year-old Black student. The phrase is a direct reference to slavery.

In audio of an apology, provided by a student, the teacher told the students that the phrase wasn’t meant to be offensive.

“It’s not meant to be offensive in any way and you know what? In listening to what you’re -- the grumbling and what you’re saying to me. I can understand now why it might be, but it wasn’t meant to hurt,” the teacher said.

The 16-year-old student spoke to Local 4 about the incident.

“Racism is just, it’s not good for anyone. Let’s be honest here. Like when she can say that type of thing and think that there’s nothing wrong with it. ‘Cause that will affect me for the rest of my life even if I’m not even thinking about it -- it’ll be in the back of my mind, subconsciously,” the student said.

The district said the teacher has been removed from the school and will not be working for the district again.

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About the Author:

Grant comes to Local 4 from Oklahoma City. He joins the news team as co-anchor of Local 4 News Today weekend mornings and is a general assignment reporter.