White Teacher Won't Be Punished For Threatening Black Student With Lynching

Pat Wise
January 13, 2018

"His teacher had told him that if he didn't get back on task, that his friends were going to lynch him, and we thought he must have misunderstood", Agee-Bell said of the moment her son told her what happened.

"I was just taken aback because I said, 'what you said is actually worse than what he said you said, '" Agee-Bell said.

Nathan said he feared his mom would be upset that he questioned his teacher, and didn't tell her about the comment for around a week, according to Cincinnati.com.

Renee Thole, a white social studies teacher at predominantly white Mason Middle School who made the comments to the 13-year-old male student in December, won't be disciplined, but has been reprimanded and and will be required to attend cultural proficiency training, the Mason City School District said Thursday.

"Sometimes we mess up". The paper said Mason Middle School Principal Tonya McCall wrote a letter to Thole telling her she could be fired if there are "future instances".

Between 1882 and the height of the civil rights movement almost a century later, more than 3,440 African-Americans were lynched in the US, according to the NAACP's website.

The district credited Mason for challenging Thole's reference to lynching.

But the teacher's words can never be unsaid, Agee-Bell said. She called the school district's response to the incident "flippant".

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But when he finally told her, Agee-Bell said she went to the superintendent with her complaints. "For her not to understand that the words that she said were a direct pull from what has been, what was a practice in the United States, is unacceptable", Agee-Bell said.

"The hardest part is that even though he knows he did nothing wrong, he still is punished because he lost opportunity with his friends", Agee-Bell said.

"Nathan told his mother that Thole did apologize to him in front of his classmates, saying, she was "'sorry you were offended by what I said, '" but nothing further. It was wonderful that this young black man was fearless enough to confront his teacher when the incident happened.

In its statement, the district also tried to make it clear that it takes racially offensive comments seriously: "We have seen an uptick in the number of racially and culturally insensitive comments in our schools and community". Sometimes these are said out of genuine ignorance.

"I said to him, [.] get to work", Thole wrote. "Clearly, that was the case here", the district said.

Teens in nearby Kings, about a mile east of Mason, were banned from a youth basketball league this month for wearing jerseys with racial slurs printed on them for several weeks until a parent from an opposing team complained. She was hired in 2002, and her personnel file shows largely positive reviews and no disciplinary action.

She is now on the Mason district's diversity council.

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