Spring, TX – An elementary school principal who made an inappropriate joke about one of her students has issued an apology in the face of vast criticism.
“We won’t chase him,” Swearingen said of a black, special needs boy, who had a history of running away from class. “We will call the police and tell them he has a gun so they can come faster.”
According to KPRC, the child’s guardian was unaware of the comment until he was contacted by the news agency. Many other parents expressed outrage, while others believed the principal should face disciplinary action.
There were also many parents who struggled to believe the allegations were true.
“It's probably going down racial lines whether we want it to or not,” parent Christopher Mitchell told KPRC. “I think it speaks to more of what we have going on in our country as much as it is going on at this school, but some action needs to be taken.”
Swearingen immediately accepted responsibility for her comment, and brought it to the attention of district administrators of her own accord, the Spring Independent School District said in a statement, according to KPRC.
“As a diverse district committed to dignity and respect for all, we take this incident very seriously,” the district’s statement read. “While the comment was made in jest, it was inappropriate and should never have been made.”
After KPRC aired a story about the situation on Monday, Swearingen sent a letter of apology to the parents and guardians of the students who attended her school.
“It is with a heavy heart that I write this message,” the letter read. “I made an insensitive comment that was not reflective of who I am nor how much I care about every student who attends this school.”
"Your children mean the world to me, and I’m heartbroken that my thoughtless remark has caused disruption to the hard work underway here at Ponderosa,” the principal continued, adding that she was proud to see how the school and community worked together in the wake of Hurricane Harvey.
"Please know that the same commitment and drive that I had to make things right for our children after the storm, I have today as I work to make things right now with both staff and parents,” Swearingen wrote. "I am truly sorry for the comment I made. It does not in any way reflect the love and care I have for the students of Ponderosa."
But her apology did little to appease her staunchest critics.
On Wednesday, school district superintendent Rodney Watson issued a statement, and explained that just because the district hadn’t provided details regarding how they were handling the situation, that didn’t mean it wasn’t being addressed, KRIV reported.
“As an African-American male and father, I understand the concern we are seeing around the careless and inappropriate comment that was made by our Ponderosa Elementary principal,” Watson said.
“As a school district, it is our policy not to discuss personnel issues so it appears some people have assumed that no action was taken on this issue,” he continued. “That is not the case. I would never let a comment of this nature go unaddressed.”