CPS removes teacher who hung Black doll from cord in classroom

Whitney Young students packed the school theater Wednesday for a listening session in which students asked questions of district officials and expressed concerns about the teacher.

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Whitney Young Magnet High School

Tyler LaRiviere/Sun-Times

A white teacher has been pulled from Whitney Young Magnet High School after he hung a Black doll by its neck from a cord at the front of his classroom then argued with a Black colleague who was offended.

Principal Joyce Kenner said Chicago Public Schools officials have taken over the investigation of the incident and removed the history teacher from the school as the latest scandal to roil one of the district’s selective enrollment high schools plays out. Kenner declined further comment Wednesday.

In an email to the school community earlier in the afternoon, the principal said administrators and CPS’ Title IX office are working together “to not only investigate and respond, but to elevate student voice in the process.” Students later packed the school theater for a listening session in which students could ask questions of district officials and express concerns.

“This session represents just the first step in our ongoing partnership,” Kenner wrote. “They will be back in our building in the coming days to ensure due process and resolution.”

A petition calling for the teacher’s removal said he had long been a problematic presence at the school. It had over 400 signatures by Wednesday evening. He could not be reached for comment.

A CPS spokesman later said the longtime teacher had been suspended for the duration of the investigation.

An image of the hanging doll was widely shared on social media.

An image of the hanging doll was widely shared on social media.

Snapchat

The incident in question happened Monday when a Black history teacher saw the doll, a Black football player, hanging by its neck from a cord at the front of the white teacher’s classroom. A profanity-laced confrontation ensued in front of students and was caught on video, which quickly spread among the student-body.

In a series of tweets Wednesday, the Chicago Teachers Union, which represents both teachers, said the district “has a responsibility to provide a safe space for every member of our school communities, which is especially important in a district that serves a student population that is 90% Black and Brown children.

“We understand the investigation at Whitney Young is ongoing, but practices that mitigate the harm of racial biases must also be ongoing and consistent in our schools. And any definition of ‘safety’ must include creating and reinforcing an environment of equity and inclusion for all students, staff and faculty of color.”

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