The Youth Organizing Institute is sharing the following petition on behalf of Melissa Reynolds and her son, Anthony Perry — a Black 5th grader at Conn Elementary School in Raleigh, NC who was violently dragged out of his classroom.
October 20, 2016
This is a letter to our friends, family, and community to ask for your support.
My name is Melissa Reynolds. My son, Anthony, told me that on October 5, at Conn Elementary in Raleigh, NC, a White 5th grade teacher got so angry after arguing with him that she pulled a chair out from under him, he hit his head and neck when he fell out of the chair, and then she dragged him by one wrist across the classroom floor and out the door. Anthony is biracial boy who is perceived as Black.
Anthony is traumatized. He has signs of PTSD because of this incident and other serious challenges in his life right now. He has slept in my bed every night since she did this to him. Anthony was left in the teacher’s classroom for two and a half school days after the incident. I insisted that Anthony be placed in another teacher’s classroom while human resources at Wake County Public School System (WCPSS) continues the investigation, but as of October 20, I have received nothing in writing and the teacher remains in the same building with my son. I am scared for all the children.
The school did not even call me until the day after this was reported to the school by my friend, Bridgette Burge, because even though her daughter was scared and upset, she was brave enough to tell her mom what she saw. Human resources is telling me that the investigation is challenging because, at first, Anthony did not tell school leadership what happened when he was questioned, and he didn’t say that he was hurt. Anthony said he did tell the principal that the teacher dragged him but he didn’t say anything else because he said he was afraid that he was in trouble. Anthony did tell them more details about what happened when he was questioned two other times, once when I was with him in the room. The HR person also told me that Anthony made the investigation problematic because he asked other kids to tell their parents what happened, he continued to talk about it, and by he asked his classmates to tell what they saw. I want justice for my son and I don’t want a teacher to ever do this to another child.
My name is Bridgette Burge. My daughter, Ella June, is Anthony’s friend. She was sitting beside him when the teacher did this. She was scared, upset, and afraid of retribution from the teacher because she told me what happened. Ella June said Anthony was crying during recess the afternoon this happened and other times for the rest of that week.
Melissa and I have repeatedly told the school’s principal that the teacher should, at the very least, be placed on leave during the investigation, and we insisted that our children be moved to another teacher’s classroom. We also asked that every parent of students who witnessed this be informed by the school. Some parents tried to reach others who have yet to be notified, but were told to back off and let HR handle the process.
This is not just about Anthony. Out of all WCPSS elementary schools, Conn gave out the sixth highest number of short-term suspensions in 2014-15. What is worse, Black students with disabilities were 39% of those suspended even though they are only 8% of the school’s student body.[i]
How different would this situation be if the child had been White? And what if the teacher was Black and the child was White? What would you do if this was happening to your child?
Our children, and all children, have the right to be treated with dignity by their teachers. They have the right to be free from harm and to attend safe schools. The teacher has the right to due process, and we respect and support that. In the meantime, please sign this letter if you support the requests below. We will send it to the school’s principal and the school board.
Thank you for helping us try to get justice for Anthony, to heal from this, and to make changes so our children are never harmed by a teacher again.
[i] Advocates for Children’s Services of Legal Aid of NC factsheet, “Conn Elementary School Discipline Fact Sheet 2014-15 School Year”
We, the undersigned, are concerned citizens who ask that:
The WCPSS school system pay for Anthony’s professional counseling and therapy.
WCPSS inform the parents and guardians of students that witnessed of this incident.
The students who were upset by what they saw receive individual counseling if they need it, and the opportunity to process this in a professionally facilitated group with their peers and parents and guardians if they choose to.
The school engage in racial equity training to reduce the disproportionate institutional harm being done to students of color and those with disabilities.
- The school improve the training for teachers in regard to student safety and respect, practice restorative justice processes, and implement trauma-informed school approaches, such as the Compassionate School Model.