Furious parents sued a central Mississippi school district after a White teacher allegedly encouraged students to hang their son, who is Black, the San Francisco Chronicle reported Thursday.
A substitute teacher urged a White student to let a Black student hit him “so that they could hang him,” the parents, Tony and Kayla Lindsey, charged in the suit about an April incident at Northwest Rankin High School in the Rankin County school district in Brandon, Mississippi.
The threat came after the couple’s son, who graduated from the school, said he would hit a White student during an argument, according to the racial discrimination suit filed in federal court in Jackson against the the teacher, Rankin County school district, and contract labor provider Kelly Services.
The teacher was identified as Jane Pinnix, WAPT reported.
“Everybody in the class gasped when she [Pinnix] said it,” said Carlos Moore, the Lindseys’ lawyer. “They knew exactly what she meant.”
The Lindseys’ son was suspended for three days after returning to school to obtain recorded video of the incident from another student, the report says. The substitute, who was a Kelly Services employee, was also suspended by the district.
The suit was deemed “frivolous” by district lawyer Fred Harrell Jr.
“She [the teacher] was trying to discipline an unruly child and maybe she didn’t use the best choice of words, but there was no racial intent or racial overtone,” Harrell Jr explained, adding that the filing incorrectly “recount[s] the teacher’s exact words” before referring to the black student. “He’s stirring up the media and he thinks that helps him stir up a settlement, but it won’t help with me.”
The family had rejected an offered $5,000 as “hush money,” Moore alleged. The district’s insurer may have made such an offer, Harrell said.
Moore defended the student in the suit, saying “his Black life is the one that seemed not to matter to the substitute teacher and the Rankin County school district.”
The matter was” investigated, discussed with parents and resolved the week of April 7,” said a school district spokesperson who also called the case “meritless,” according to WAPT.