After neighbors complained about a message painted on a fence, a teacher was promptly fired for “hate speech.” However, both the teacher and her husband say that the offensive message was the work of a vandal and that the original message isn’t hateful in any way.
As race relations remain under tension, the wrong opinion can easily draw a backlash, resulting in some individuals losing their jobs and livelihoods. Incredibly, this was the case with a Louisiana educator, despite claims that she wasn’t even the one who expressed the “hate speech” on her fence.
A Metairie school teacher has been terminated from her position after several messages on her property sparked an uproar in the community. According to WWL, the Kehoe-France School has confirmed that the teacher, who remains unnamed, was fired following an internal investigation into three phrases that were painted on her fence.
The messages in question read “Blue N’ White Lives Matter Too,” “We All Matter,” and “#F–k All N—–s” on the exterior of the home’s privacy fence. The display sparked outrage among several neighbors, who complained that the messages were offensive and racist.
The teacher’s husband admitted to painting the first two messages on the fence but claims that the racial slur was an act of vandalism, which has since been pressure-washed off the fence. He says that the same vulgar words have been painted on his fence before by an unknown assailant and that he had washed them off then as well.
Paige Clark, who described herself as one of the two black residents in the neighborhood, confirmed that similar offensive messages often show up on the fence overnight.
“It always happens magically during the night and in the morning you wake up and it’s on the fence. On this block it’s me and one other black person. There’s no other black people here at all so that made me really uncomfortable,” Clark said.
Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office confirmed that detectives had launched an investigation into the third phrase, which the husband claims appeared overnight next to his messages. The incident is being treated as an act of vandalism, although the sheriff’s office confirmed there are no suspects. The office assured that the homeowners’ right to free speech would be taken into account.
Despite the husband confessing to writing the two other messages and the teacher having nothing to do with any of the phrases in question, the school district had come to a decision. According to WDSU, Head of School Dr. Tanya Price referred to a zero-tolerance for the speech displayed in the incident.
“Just a short while ago, it was brought to my attention that, on a Facebook post, a Kehoe-France employee has been implicated in a display that involved hateful and racist speech,” Price wrote. “I want to state clearly that Kehoe-France has zero tolerance for such speech, action or ideologies, and we have launched an internal investigation into this matter.”
Although the school didn’t specify which of the messages resulted in the decision to fire the teacher, Price referred to the “display” in its entirety as “hateful and racist speech.”
“The mission of Kehoe-France is to give each student a strong academic foundation, promote social skills and physical well-being, and nurture cultural and ethical development in a caring and aesthetically pleasing environment. Racism and bigotry cannot be part of that experience. As head of school at KFSS, there is no higher priority for me than to have a school community in which racial equality and inclusion are demonstrated in all aspects of our lives together.”
The school has since removed its statement on social media. However, the decision to terminate the teacher remains. Disturbingly, the school didn’t wait for the sheriff’s office to conclude its investigation, which suggests that it was the references to the lives of law enforcement officers and whites that were considered “hateful and racist.”
The school is sending the message that not only will teachers be punished for having the wrong political or social opinion, but they will be held responsible for the opinions of their family members as well.