In a recent article, a North High principal and teacher are in conflict regarding the racism in the classroom. Both the principal and teacher have demonstrated their disdain for each other through written communication. When problems associated with racism in the classroom become prominent, schools will find better results by empowering teachers.

According to the article, North High principal Lisa Dyer sent the staff at North an email in response to a column in Worcester Magazine. The email, which was sent to GoLocal early Tuesday morning, accused North High English teacher and Worcester Magazine columnist Janice Harvey of aligning herself with a “racist blog,” disrespecting Superintendent Dr. Melinda Boone and causing potential race relation problems at the school.

The superintendent has supported the North High principal by stating, “During the past two months, students, teachers, and administration at North High School have worked diligently to implement a Safety Action Plan to address recent safety concerns at the school.  That plan has additionally included collaboration with parents, community leaders, and Worcester Police, and has lead to a significant decrease in disruptions caused by a small percent of students.  As a result, the school is being rebuilt into an atmosphere that continues to prioritize learning, and uphold the school’s zero tolerance policy for class disruptions.

“While NHS is showing steady improvements, students have expressed frustration about being featured in the media due to the disruption by a few.  Despite this, they have moved on and are working together to build a stronger community of kindness within the school.

“Principal Lisa Dyer continues to protect the positive learning and sense of community that has been created as a result of students’ efforts in trying to improve their school’s reputation.  Last week, one NHS teacher wrote about the school’s past struggles in her column for a local publication.  As there have been almost no disruptive incidents at NHS for the past few weeks, Principal Dyer responded to the article with a note to staff asking teachers to remain focused on the goal of education at NHS, and to not be deterred by one of their own teachers bringing NHS back into the media.  With this response, Principal Dyer has held her students and teachers to the highest esteem by encouraging them, rather than allowing them to become deterred by a story that repeats past incidents at NHS which have already been published.”

The problem that the school faces is that the implemented which was used for eliminating the racism in the classroom has actually obstructed the power of the teachers.

The school developed a Safety Action Plan which included the collaboration of all stakeholders such as students, teachers, parents, police officials and even the mayor. However, the plan is implemented by the administrators and the local police. This format of implementation has actually disempowered teachers. Even though there were only a few students who allegedly started the problems, all of the students know that the teachers would not be effective without the support of the local police. And this is what will make many teachers feel impeded. They know themselves that they are only powerful due to the support of the local police.

Racism in the classroom is not a disciplinary problem, it is a relationship problem. It is a relationships problem between a teacher and a student. Interference from any outside element will actually further divide the possibility of teachers developing positive racial relationships with students.

It is paramount to the development of a relationship between a step parent and a step child who do not get along. As long as the natural parent interferes with any disagreements between the step parent and the step child, they will never have an opportunity to develop a positive relationship on their own. The interference from the natural parent will make the step parent feel disempowered. The step child will eventually believe that the step parent cannot solve problems without the natural parent and continue to disrespect the step parent.

The disrespected step parent will eventually lash out just the same as the teacher at North High has lashed out. Teachers want to solve the problems associated with racism in the classroom. The best way to eliminate racism in the classroom is to allow the teachers to implement a plan that promotes positive racial teacher student classroom relationships (Properateasclaships).

Related Articles

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OPINION: Worcester principal wrong to bash teacher in email



Dr. Derrick L. Campbell, Ed.D.
PO Box 1668 Blackwood, NJ 08012


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Author of Promoting Positive Racial Teacher Student Classroom Relationships




“The model that you use to analyze teacher-student relationships is a good one for most school districts”.

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3 thoughts on “How should North High respond to racism in the classroom?”

  1. Dr. Campbell, I really feel for yours and everyone else’s benifit you take this down, Reread the ONE article you read, and read a couple more. You have all the information backwards. It was the teachers asking for the police and it was the teacher who wrote the article and is accused of racism. I see where the confuse can be with Janice Harvey’s article in Worcester Magazine, she says it how it is and that the teachers and students portray colorblindness. It is the administration that brings in the notion that any negative light or concerns about the safety of the school is wrapped in racist motives. The school had over 500 student signature advocating police at the school due to the violence that left four vice principles with injuries on separate occasions. The community is concerned that the recent suspension and expulsion “action plan” has left the school vulnerable to repeated violence. Any opposition to the action plan has been met with being slapped with the racist label. I highly advise a man of your doctorate level education do your due diligence and get more information because as of right now you have not made any contribution to either side and can’t pronounce the name of the city correctly but beyond that thank you for your input.

    1. Thanks for your comments and thoughts. What you missed is that the only reason that teachers will continue to lash out is because the processes that are put in place to reduce racism in schools and increase safety actually disempower teachers. The school needs to ensure that the perception of the teachers intentions are not modified by the addition of security personnel and policies.

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