Racism is running rampant in Iowa with a string of incidents in recent months. Most recently, a teacher sparked outrage after she allegedly dragged a Black doll with a rope in front of students during a classroom demonstration.
Tammy Ryan, a special education teacher at Metro Alternative High School in Cedar Rapids, may be out of a job over the incident, CBS affiliate WTOL reported. The Cedar Rapids School District is investigating but officials haven’t made any comments about the date or other incident details. District Superintendent Brad Buck, however, recommended Ryan’s immediate termination on Tuesday.
A previous incident had also brought attention on the Cedar Rapids district: The U.S. Department of Education investigated several African-American students’ complaints about civil rights violations in February. Students had accused an unidentified Cedar Rapids teacher of harassment and intimidation last fall, according to a department letter obtained by the Cedar Rapids Gazette.
The incidents come after several Iowa State University students complained about a racist climate at their school. More than 1,000 students, or about one-third, reported harassment on the basis of race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, political views and disability in a school survey released in April; more than a quarter of respondents of color and multiracial students had “experienced exclusionary, intimidating, offensive and/or hostile conduct.”
“There is racism here; there is sexism here,” Dan Merson, an executive associate with Pennsylvania-based Rankin & Associates Consulting who conducted the survey with Iowa State University, said. “But if you acknowledge it and say ‘this is what we’re going to do about it,’ that’s much better than ignoring or discounting it.”
The problems in Iowa also extend outside schools to the larger community: Several state cities have also been inundated with literature from white supremacists groups in recent months. The increasing issues with racism will likely spur a mass protest movement.