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Parents at Gunter ISD concerned after racial incidents

Published: Apr. 26, 2021 at 6:29 PM CDT
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GUNTER, Texas (KXII) - Staff members at Gunter ISD are on administrative leave tonight following an investigation by the school district into inappropriate actions between staff and students involving race.

Gunter ISD Superintendent Dr. Jill Siler sent us this letter going out to parents today detailing how a staff member made an inappropriate statement and physical act that referenced George Floyd last week.

“I just really hope that the administration takes all of these very seriously and does the right thing,” said a concerned Gunter parent.

Gunter ISD Superintendent Dr. Jill Siler says an investigation was opened last week. Parents say a high school staff member allegedly told a student who was misbehaving he was going to “George Floyd” him if he didn’t straighten up.

Siler says in their investigation they learned another high school staffer then referenced the incident during class time “by engaging in inflammatory actions unrelated to the class content regarding staff and students.”

Siler says both employees involved are now on administrative leave.

One Gunter high school parent, who wished to remain anonymous, says her student also recently received an assignment asking them to write about what the “n word” means to them.

“As a parent if we want to discuss that at home we definitely could, but I don’t feel that’s the right environment for a student to have to give their opinions especially in front of others because we don’t know how other people feel about it or how they’ll react,” said the concerned Gunter parent.

Siler says the assignment was related to a Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills text, and that “the readings were not inappropriate, were consistent with the curriculum being taught, and underscored the challenges of racism throughout history.”

But the concerned parent says her student was not comfortable completing the assignment, and hopes the district handles last week’s incident appropriately.

“Something needs to be done instead of just brushing it under the rug. I hope that the school has a zero tolerance policy so that these types of situations do not occur again,” said the concerned Gunter parent.

Siler says they are working with students and staff to provide an environment where they feel safe, valued and respected The district’s full statement can be viewed below.

A statement from Gunter ISD regarding the incidents.
A statement from Gunter ISD regarding the incidents.(KXII)

Full statement from Gunter ISD Superintendent Jill Siler:

“Dear Gunter ISD Community,

It is with a heavy heart that I share with you recently received allegations of inappropriate interactions between GISD secondary staff members and students involving race. The Gunter ISD Board of Trustees stands united with our community in the belief that no child should be subjected to any form of bullying, harassment or other type of racial intolerance.

The District received a specific allegation last week that a GHS staff member, while redirecting a student, engaged in an inappropriate verbal and physical act that referenced George Floyd. Following that event, another GHS staff member then allegedly referenced the incident during class time by engaging in inflammatory actions unrelated to the class content regarding staff and students. In accordance with state and federal laws and regulations and District policy, the administration immediately began an investigation on the day it received the allegations and placed the employees on administrative leave. Due to legal restrictions regarding the confidentiality of student and personnel information, Gunter ISD is unable to release specific student and/or personnel information. Be assured that appropriate measures were, and will continue to be, taken to investigate and address this matter.

As the District moves forward in this investigation, we intend to continue working with our students, parents, and community to resolve this concern while remaining focused on the success and wellbeing of all of our students and staff.

In the course of the investigation of the incident last week, the District received questions regarding an unrelated GHS English assignment that took place in January 2021. Following a prompt investigation at the time, the District determined the concerns arose from an assignment while students were reading a text aligned to the TEKS which uses the “n” word. Upon learning about student concerns with this lesson, the high school administration did a full and thorough investigation and found that the readings were not inappropriate, were consistent with the curriculum being taught, and underscored the challenges of racism throughout history. The administration took all appropriate action to reiterate the need to address this topic with sensitivity.

The District has remained vigilant in addressing these issues, recently providing training and learning opportunities for our staff and students regarding diversity, equity, and inclusion. Last year Region 11 provided training for staff on a broad range of topics that included cultural consciousness, bias/implicit bias, and fostering cultural competency. Following the training, Region 11 specifically complimented the District on its proactive approach to ensuring all learning environments are equitable and culturally responsive. For students, the District facilitated conversations through “Tiger Talks” – small group discussion between students, staff and administrators. The groups were focused around building relationships and touched on topics relevant to high school students including time management, goal setting, digital citizenship, peer pressure and embracing our differences.

The District fully intends to continue these efforts to collaboratively work with our students and staff to provide an environment where they feel safe, valued and respected in Gunter ISD. The Gunter ISD Board of Trustees would like to reiterate the District’s dedication to caring for all students and staff members.

Sincerely, Dr. Jill Siler, Gunter ISD Superintendent”

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