Michigan Mom Repeatedly Uses Racial Slur During School Board Meeting

A Michigan parent has sparked anger after using a racial slur twice during a school board meeting on Monday.

The woman made her remarks during the public comment section of the Grosse Pointe school board meeting, which was livestreamed online.

She began by sharing her objections to a recent diversity meeting, then explained that one of her sons had been suspended from school for using the n-word on social media.

"I have two young white boys, one of which got in trouble for saying the n-word on Snapchat," she said.

Her son's "dark chocolate auntie got him into Straight Outta Compton," the woman added.

Parent uses racial slur during board meeting
Members of the Grosse Pointe school board objected to the woman's language at the meeting. Grosse Pointe Public Schools

"So my boy got Straight Outta Compton, he's into all the old-school hip-hop … and says in parody on Snapchat, which essentially got him kicked out of South [High School] for four to 10 days."

The woman added: "My address was put out there, we were threatened, and why? Because he said [the n-word]. I'm sorry, this happens to be in every song. The FCC, the Jon Connors, the who's who are in charge [n-word] … basically are allowing this and our kids…"

A board member then interrupts the woman to object to her language, prompting her to apologize. "I'll watch it, I'm sorry, I'm sorry," she said.

She continued: "They really are trying to victimize our kids. When that happened to my son… it's just disgraceful what they do and the bullying on social media and through the school system is not cool."

The woman's use of the slur was addressed by the board several minutes later.

"In my seven years on the board, I've never heard anyone speak in the audience like tonight," said board member Margaret Weertz.

"I've never heard the n-word used in front of our colleagues here, and this is very upsetting to me … We need to be able to talk about different opinions, different politics, whatever. But we don't disparage people. We don't use slurs of any kind—ethnic, racial, anything. And I'm just upset and I can't let this keep going without saying something."

Jon Dean, the superintendent of the Grosse Pointe Public School System (GPPSS), added: "I, as the superintendent, need to say our school district does not tolerate language like that in any construct.

"And the argument that they can hear it somewhere else, therefore they can do it here, is one of the most enabling, offensive arguments and has led to countless atrocities in our history. So, that is really an incredibly weak argument and it is offensive."

Board member Colleen Worden told Newsweek on Wednesday: "The use of racist language has no place in the Grosse Pointe public school district, where we embrace diversity and inclusion. I'm appalled by the speaker's use of this word at our school board meeting."

But some parents criticized Worden for not speaking up during the meeting.

Jen Evans, a parent to two high school students, told Newsweek it was "disappointing" that Worden had said "nothing to denounce the comments or the word" during the meeting.

Worden "gave her trustee comments immediately following the podium rant," Evans said. "She made no reference to the racist comments at all. In fact, she spent her allotted time speaking out against masks in GPPSS and calling for the Wayne County mask mandate to be repealed."

Evans said that she and other constituents have "emailed and tried to engage her on social media about it with no luck."

Maria Lograsso, who has a child in the school district, said Worden and another board member, Lisa Papas, "both swiftly brushed past the racist comments and slur into long speeches about removing masks."

She added that Worden has taken the time as board meetings "to speak of what she considers unkind words and behavior on social media from parents, most notable her attendance at events unmasked, and has gone as far to scold the parent community for criticizing our elected officials. To not hear Trustee Worden admonish racism and to see her consistent refusal in this situation and others to take time address her constituents questions and concerns directly to her is extremely disappointing when it is clear she makes time for the media."

Cynthia M. Douglas, president of the Grosse Pointes & Harper Woods branch of the NAACP, also told Newsweek she was offended that more board members had not condemned the woman's language during the meeting.

"The Grosse Pointes & Harper Woods NAACP is highly offended by and concerned about a white Grosse Pointe parent's use of the n-word during a public meeting," Douglas said in a statement to Newsweek.

"Use of this slur—which has historically been uttered to subjugate African Americans—has no place in a public meeting or anywhere. The parent was upset her son was suspended from school for using the word on Snapchat. What better way to get her point across but to come to a school board meeting and use the same word? But we are even more offended by the lack of response from the board's president, as well as most of the members, to both acknowledge, censure or dismiss the comments by this resident."

Douglas noted that only Dean and one other board member "spoke up to say that word should never be tolerated."

"This does not fit into the recently developed strategic plan to be inclusive for students to learn in a safe environment," she added. "Our elected leaders should set the tone for public discussion and take a stand that such vile retorts have no place in our public dialogue."

In a letter addressed to the Grosse Pointe Public School system that was provided to Newsweek early on Wednesday, the board's president Joseph Herd said he felt "compelled" to address the matter.

"It is critically important that our entire community understands that this behavior has no place in our school district," Herd said.

He added that he had been the speaker who interrupted the woman to stop her "using that language and said she could only continue if she refrained from such behavior.

"If you have watched any board meeting during my time as president, you have seen me emphasize how critical it is for us to model civil discourse and listen to all voices, even when we disagree," Herd said.

"By nature and professional training, I am a peacekeeper. But do not think my willingness to listen means I or the board agree with the use of such language. We condemn this language. In fact, this only underscores the importance of our collective work set forth in our new strategic plan."

Update 01/26/22, 10:30 a.m. ET: This article was updated to add comments from Cynthia Douglas and Joseph Herd. Update 01/26/22, 7:25 a.m. ET: This article was updated to add a comment from Colleen Worden. Update 01/27/22, 7:10 a.m. ET and 11:12 am. ET: This article was updated to add comments from Jen Evans and Maria Lograsso.