A school district in Wisconsin is sparking anger from the Asian American community after allowing a teacher accused of using anti-Asian slurs back into the classroom, reports the Daily Beast.
The Wassau School District called the conduct of band teacher Robert Perkin “insensitive and unprofessional”. However, the district said it did not consider it “discrimination or harassment.”
Asian American leaders said the conclusion by the district “sends a strong message that using racist, sexist, and homophobic slurs are permissible so long as they are made in good faith,” according to the Wassau Daily Herald.
The student Perkin directed his derogatory remarks towards said the incident is part of an ongoing pattern and is intentional. Perkin is accused of using the words “ch*nk” and “ching chong.”
“Overall, we are angry, hurt, and worried about the kind of classroom culture East High School tolerates as well as the unacceptably low standards it allows for its teachers,” an open letter from Asian American leaders says.
District Superintendent Keith Hilts wrote in his own letter to parents “While a preponderance of the evidence shows that Mr. Perkins did not engage in harassing or discriminatory behavior, he did engage in insensitive and unprofessional conduct.”
However, Hilts defended his conclusions saying “all students report that Mr. Perkins uses humor to engage students and create a ‘fun’ environment.”
The Wassau Pilot and Review reported the district awarded Perkin teacher of the month in January.
The district is overwhelmingly White, but has a significant Hmong American population.
The parent of the boy targeted described his son as devastated.
“When I saw it in my son’s eyes as he’s crying on the floor, it broke my heart that a grown man can do this to my son,” Tha Vongphakdy told WAOW.
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Wow. Humor is fine to teach with, but racist humor? No. And at the expense of another? Especially a vulnerable younger person? No.
If a teacher mocked or insulted a child from any other race, everyone recognizes that as racism. But if the child is Asian, that is merely “insensitive” and that teacher is rewarded. When Hilts said “all students report…a ‘fun’ environment”, he is saying only the white students count because the Asian students are not having fun. These students are being taught that mocking Asians is the acceptable and they continue that into adulthood. This is how people like Keon end up teaching at Purdue University and its leadership excuses and rewards him for mocking Asians. Isn’t it finally time to teach children that mocking anyone, including Asians, is wrong and that there will be consequences if they do?