The Slack conversations between the teachers at the Rhode Island school were filled with expletives.
They blasted parents.
They ridiculed students.
“Here’s how Hudson spelled Ta-Nehisi Coates: Tonahese quotes,” a teacher wrote in one chat.
“f—— idiot,” another responded.
The apparent target of that message was Hudson Deighan, a 16-year-old who told the Providence Journal that when she spotted her name in the leaked chat logs, she began to cry.
“It’s just damaging to think that the people that are encouraging you are just behind your back saying, ‘She can’t do it, she’s such a dumb [expletive],'” Deighan told the newspaper. “I was building confidence, slowly and surely, but now they’ve wrecked that with a few messages.”
The private messages, which are under investigation, became much more public earlier this week; the Journal reports that they were “shared in a Google Doc with the entire school community” on Monday. According to the newspaper, the document spread via mass email sent by a teacher, whose account had reportedly been hacked.
“When I saw them,” Deighan’s father, Scout, said of the messages, “I was flabbergasted.”
In the wake of the scandal, three teachers, whose names have not been released, have resigned from Blackstone Valley Prep Mayoral Academy, a charter school located in Cumberland, R.I.
An internal investigation into the matter is ongoing, said Jen LoPiccolo, the school’s director of external affairs.
“I want to be crystal clear, many of the comments written are deeply disturbing and offensive. As the founding school leader, executive director of the organization, and parent of three scholars in the program, I am deeply saddened and disappointed,” Blackstone Valley Prep executive director Jeremy Chiappetta wrote in an open letter posted online. “Parents put their trust in teachers and the school, and that trust has been violated.”
Screenshots of the messages were forwarded to The Post. LoPiccolo confirmed their authenticity.
The conversations were at times profane and disparaging of students or parents. In one conversation, a teacher, apparently angry at a student’s mother, writes “I CANNOT WITH HER I HOPE HER STUPID SON FAILS ALL HIS CLASSES.” In another, a teacher calls a student a “dumb a–.”
“It was like I was looking at what eighth graders might say about each other,” said Scout, who goes by a single name.
Scout said that his daughter had come to her parents before, complaining of a toxic environment at her school. They told her that it couldn’t be true, and asked her to think about what she was putting into the environment, too.
“And after seeing these messages, we had to go back and apologize to her,” he said. “We were so sorry. She kept telling us that lots of students were having problems with the teachers. And we kept saying ‘no no no, it can’t be as bad as you’re saying. Then we found out it was worse. It was worse. That horrible scenario where you don’t believe your child and then you realize you should have been standing by them.”
Scout said that his daughter was already planning on leaving the school before the messages leaked.
“We can all blow off steam, right? But how many of us are foolish enough to do it in a written format, on a work-sponsored platform?” he said, when asked what he would say to those who might suggest the teachers were simply venting. “That is a level of obliviousness around professional boundaries that scares me by itself.
“Second of all, you can blow off steam, but that’s different from just slamming teenagers for struggling,” he continued. “You can see, they called my daughter a f—— idiot for not being able to spell Ta-Nehisi Coates. That’s not blowing off steam. That’s a level of aggression and dismissiveness that should not be anywhere near the educational system.”