White teacher in Iowa to black student: Say 'Yes, sir, master'

Student: "Yes, sir." Teacher: "You meant to say, ‘Yes, sir, master.’"
By Matt Bradwell  |  June 10, 2014 at 12:36 PM
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DES MOINES, Iowa, June 10 (UPI) -- A white high-school teacher in Iowa allegedly made racially charged comments to a black student, but the teacher may not have been punished, according to the student's mother.

Jabre White, a senior at Roosevelt High School in Des Moines, said teacher Shawn McCurtain instructed his class to move from one classroom to another. Jabre responded submissively, saying "Yes, sir," to which McCurtain shot back, "You meant to say, 'Yes, sir, master.'"

Upon learning of the incident, Nicholle White of West Des Moines immediately contacted school officials, who confirmed the words were indeed said.

"To put it mildly, it was wrong in every way you look at it," school district spokesman Phil Roeder told the Des Moines Register.

In an email to White, Roosevelt Vice Principal Joseph Blazevich also confirmed the incident, but would not tell White what disciplinary action was being taken against McCurtain, prompting the concerned parent to contact local media.

"I have tried to be humble [with school officials]," White said said. "But I also feel I need to express as a mother, and as a black woman, how I feel."

State Rep. Ako Abdul-Samad runs the World Youth Leadership Academy at Creative Visions, a service group for which Jabre is vice president. Abdul-Samad was offended that a teacher in his district would express such bigotry, and said parents have a right to know how the teacher was disciplined.

"The incident also raises questions about what kind of training educators are getting, especially since we just got another report about black students doing poorly in Iowa," he added.

Jabre was the recipient of Roosevelt's Wanda Everage Award, given to the senior who the senior who best "embodies qualities of respect and responsibility." He will be a freshman at Iowa State University in the fall.

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