Mother of Black student says teacher made racist rant

PALMDALE, Calif. — The mother of a Black 12-year-old boy is seeking damages against a Southern California school district after her son’s teacher went on a half-hour tirade laced with racism and profanity.

Katura Stokes filed a damage claim — typically a precursor to a lawsuit — on Thursday on behalf of her son against the Palmdale School District over comments made by a science instructor after a Zoom session with her son in January, the Orange County Register reported.

The sixth-grader attends Desert Willow Fine Arts, Science and Technology Magnet Academy in Palmdale, an Antelope Valley city northeast of Los Angeles.

The student body is about 13% African-American.

In her complaint, Stokes said her son had struggled to complete class assignments using the district’s online platform for distance learning, instituted because classrooms have been closed during the coronavirus pandemic.

According to the complaint, science teacher Kimberly Newman, Stokes and her son had a Zoom session on Jan. 20 to work out problems in using the platform and the teacher finally said the boy was caught up with his assignments.

But then the teacher, apparently unaware that she hadn’t exited the session, went on a rant — recorded by Stokes — lasting more than 30 minutes in which she apparently is heard complaining to her husband.

“She’s answered her phone for the first time the entire year,” the teacher says of Stokes, according to the video obtained by the Register.

“I mean these parents, that’s what kind of piece of s(asterisk)(asterisk)t they are,” Newman says, and adds: “Black. He’s Black. They’re a Black family.”

“Your son has learned to lie to everybody and make excuses … to be a child,” the video continues. “Since you’ve taught him to make excuses that nothing is his fault. This is what Black people do.”

Newman was placed on administrative leave and resigned within days after the Zoom meeting. She declined to comment when reached by phone Thursday, the Register said.

The video “clearly shows that unequal educational experiences for minority students exist,” said Neil Gehlawat, an attorney representing Stokes. “Ms. Stokes reached out for help — and, in return, she discovered that her son was being treated unfairly because of the color of his skin.”