When a Chicago Public Schools teacher recently found a Black stuffed doll in his classroom, he hung the doll from the cord of a projector screen, the principal said.
But the incident did not stop there.
When a Black colleague approached the teacher to discuss why he thought the incident was offensive — saying it simulated a lynching — the pair began shouting at each other in front of the class, according to a video recorded by a student and obtained by the Chicago Sun-Times.
The viral photo of the Black doll dressed as a football player and hanging by its neck sparked outrage among staff, parents and students and prompted a Chicago Public Schools investigation into the incident, a spokeswoman confirmed to The Post. The teacher, who was not publicly identified by the district, was suspended on Wednesday, pending the results of the investigation.
“Chicago Public Schools strives to foster safe and secure learning environments for our students, families, and colleagues,” the spokeswoman said in an email. “Our schools and the District investigate and address all complaints and allegations of wrongdoing in accordance with District policies and procedures.”
The incident is the latest case of teachers being placed on leave after facing similar accusations. Last April, a New Jersey science teacher was suspended after calling George Floyd a “criminal” during a virtual class. In October, a White math teacher in California was suspended after a video captured her sporting a faux Native American headdress, stomping her feet and waving her arms while repeatedly chanting “SohCahToa,” a phrase used in trigonometry.
In other instances, teachers have been terminated. In 2018, an Albuquerque English teacher was dismissed after students reported she called a Native American teen a “bloody Indian” and cut another student’s braid.
The video from the Chicago high school captured a heated argument between the White teacher and his Black colleague, who yelled at each other off camera.
“I’m not going to stand up in here with you … you’re making me feel uncomfortable,” one teacher can be heard shouting.
Kenner told staff, parents and students in an email that the school’s administration had spoken with both teachers, investigated the incident and referred it to the district for a formal inquiry. She added that administrators had met with students and “discussed the incident at length.”
“We plan to follow the disciplinary protocol established by Chicago Public Schools,” Kenner said in an email Tuesday night.
The Chicago Teachers Union condemned the incident.
“We understand the investigation at Whitney Young is ongoing, but practices that mitigate the harm of racial biases must be also be ongoing, and consistent, in our schools,” the union tweeted Wednesday. “Mayor [Lori] Lightfoot 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 percent Black and Brown children.”
The mayor’s office did not immediately respond to a message from The Post early Monday.
The high school — Michelle Obama’s alma mater — has been ranked the fourth best in Illinois. It’s Chicago’s second-most diverse high school and the 12th best magnet high school in the country, according to its website. It is one of the district’s most selective high schools, known for its rigorous curriculum.
As of early Monday, nearly 1,200 people had signed a Change.org petition demanding the teacher be terminated.
The teacher did not immediately respond to several messages from The Post early Monday.
In her email to the school community, Kenner referred to the incident as unfortunate.
“It has been my goal to create a community of respect and professionalism over the past 27 years as principal,” Kenner said. “We strive each day to make sure that every student, faculty and staff member feels comfortable, supported and safe.”