State of complacency: Texas reluctant to punish racist educators

Malaki Lingg, Assistant Web Editor

On Nov. 11, 2022, a video surfaced on social media showing a middle school teacher spouting white supremacist rhetoric to his class at Bohls Middle School in Pflugerville, Texas. In the video, the teacher — who remains anonymous — holds a discussion with his class where he makes claims such as “Deep down in my heart, I’m ethnocentric, which means I think my race is the superior one,” and “I said, ‘I am a racist.’ That’s what I said.” 

Originally, the teacher was placed on administrative leave before being terminated on Nov. 14. While the removal of the teacher was a necessary step by Pflugerville Independent School District (PfISD), why was it not the first step? There was explicit evidence of the teacher pushing racist propaganda toward his students, as well as claims that this was not the first time he had done so.

In a statement released by PfISD, Superintendent Douglas Killian stated, “[PfISD] and Bohls MS staff work together to create an inclusive and welcoming environment for all of our students. The advisory discussion was inappropriate, inaccurate and unacceptable; and this type of interaction will not be tolerated in any PfISD schools.” If inclusivity is important to PfISD, there should have been no hesitation in firing the teacher. 

Xenophobia within the public school system in Texas has become incredibly prevalent in the past few years. Early College High School in Round Rock, Texas, had a similar controversy in 2019. Ex-Principal Veronica Coss was placed on administrative leave after various allegations of racism, transphobia and ableism. While the administrative leave and internal investigation began in Sept. 2019, it took until March 2020 for Coss to resign from her position after Round Rock Independent School District claimed no wrongdoing by Coss had been discovered. 

Texas schools have a problem with condemning bigotry being taught to students. While the PfISD teacher has been fired, his termination should have been the first step. How was he not reprimanded previously, since students claimed this was not the first occurrence of prejudice in his classroom? With these incidents happening in increasing numbers, Texas schools need to do better at not just holding intolerant teachers accountable, but at preventing these situations in the first place.