Teacher Suspended Over Photo of Her Foot on Black Boy's Neck

A Texas school district is investigating after a teacher reportedly took a photo of her foot on the neck of a 10-year-old Black student and sent it to the boy's mother.

The teacher, who is white and works at Lamar Elementary School in Greenville, texted the image to the boy's mother on Tuesday, according to Fox 4—shortly after Derek Chauvin, a former Minneapolis police officer, was convicted of murdering George Floyd after kneeling on his neck for more than 9 minutes last May.

The boy's aunt, Lakadren Jackson, posted the picture on Facebook and said it was "unacceptable."

She wrote: "This stuff right here is unacceptable. Under no circumstances should this have happened. This is my nephew and his teacher and she thought it would be funny to do some sh*t like this.

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The boy, identified as Zaelyn Jackson, told CBS DFW that he believed his teacher was doing it as a joke. "She didn't put pressure on it or anything," he added.

His family reportedly want the teacher fired, however.

Lakadren Jackson told Fox 4 the teacher had said she would put her foot on the boy's neck if he didn't stop misbehaving in class. When the boy and other students said she wouldn't, he got down on the ground and the photo was taken.

"I don't really understand the whole situation, but all I know is it was never supposed to happen," the boy's father, identified only as Shamell, told WFAA.

The child's mother also said the teacher sent the picture as a joke, and she did not believe the woman was being malicious.

In a message to families, the Greenville Independent School District described the photo as "staged," but said the teacher had been placed on administrative leave while the district investigated the incident. Appropriate action would be taken, the message added.

"Upon learning about this, we immediately contacted the family to check on the student to ensure his well-being," the school district said.

"We will continue to be in touch with the family to be sure the student feels comfortable and safe on campus."

George Floyd Square
Young boys walk past George Floyd Square in Minneapolis, Minnesota, on April 21, a day after Derek Chauvin was convicted of Floyd's murder. Kerem Yucel/AFP via Getty Images

Greenville Schools Superintendent Demetrus Liggins told WFAA his initial reaction to the picture was "disgust."

"That is not who we are. That picture does not define our teachers, it does not define the way we treat our students and what the expectation is throughout our district," he said.

He added: "After a year of lots of trials and challenges due to the pandemic, to have this occur on the day that it occurred, the optics again were just not good at all regardless of the intentions."

Newsweek has contacted the boy's family, Greenville school district and Liggins for additional comment.

The incident comes less than two weeks after a Texas high school disciplined students for a group chat called "Slave Trade," in which they pretended to sell Black classmates.

Also this month, three teachers at a middle school in Wisconsin resigned after they set sixth graders an assignment asking how they would punish slaves.