Teacher Rights Violated

The 2020 summer has been pleated with racial equality demonstrations due to the death of several Black citizens at the hands of the police. As a result, educators have scrambled to determine what responses are conducive to the educational environment before students return from summer vacation. A lone Texas teacher decided to wear a face mask imprinted with the #BlackLivesMatter symbolism to voice her solidarity with Black students and parents for the racial equality cause.

The Texas teacher wore the face mask for several weeks and was eventually terminated by the school district. The assistant headmaster, Heather Molder, sent the teacher a text message that stated “Hey. can you start bringing a different mask on campus? We don’t discuss the current political climate on campus. Parents will start coming around more now.” The teacher was terminated on September 5, after a month of speaking with school and district officials on the matter and days before students returned to campus.

The Great Heart School District has errored on several fronts. The first challenge is the communication between the assistant headmaster and the teacher. The assistant should have given the teacher a directive. If the teacher decided not to follow the directive, then the termination would be on the grounds of insubordination.

Insubordination in the workplace refers to an employee’s intentional refusal to obey an employer’s lawful and reasonable orders. Such a refusal would undermine a supervisor’s level of respect and ability to manage and, therefore, is often a reason for disciplinary action, up to and including termination.

There are three factors in determining insubordination:

  1. The employer gives the order.
  2. The employee acknowledges the order.
  3. The employee refuses to carry out the order.

The second challenge is the relationship that existed between the teacher and the administrators. It took them almost two weeks to decide to fire the teacher who is White. This is paramount to White privilege. White privilege (or white skin privilege) is the societal privilege that benefits white people over non-white people in some societies, particularly if they are otherwise under the same social, political, or economic circumstances. 

I remember talking to a Black teacher who told me she was moving back to Atlanta. She was a math teacher in a local New Jersey school district. She told me that she wore a #BlackLivesMatter shirt to school and on the same day the principal who was Black told her that she could not wear the shirt in school. This example reveals the different ways that Black and White teachers are treated.

The Texas teacher had the right to wear a face mask as a representation of her support for racial equality. In the case of Tarpo v. Bowman Public Sch. Dist. No. 1, the court ruled that a teacher could wear an armband as a representation of his opposition to the Vietnam war. However, the court did acknowledge that the wearing of the armband was permissible because it did not cause a disruption in the school. The school district errored because they did not give the opportunity for wearing the #BlackLivesMatter face mask to create a school disruption. It appears that the disruption was amongst the school leaders and not the parents and students. 

Teachers who wish to join in the #BlackLivesMatter movement and express their opposition to racial equality can do so by Promoting Positive Racial Teacher Student Classroom Relationships.

Promoting Positive Racial Teacher Student Classroom Relationships provides a win-win situation with parents. Black parents prepare their children to live in a dual cultural world that involves helping them to develop skills for adult roles such as wage earners and parenthood in addition to negotiating a dominant society that has different cultural values and judges people by their skin color or ethnic background.

Promoting Positive Racial Teacher Student Classroom Relationships provides a win-win situation with students. The primary source of Black student opposition is that they feel schools are ineffective in preparing them to live in a racially and culturally diverse society. They also believe White teachers have low estimates of their ability and worthiness. Promoting Positive Racial Teacher Student Classroom Relationships is a racial equality process that provides a win-win scenario for students and their parents, teachers, administrators, and the school community.

Related Articles

A Texas teacher was fired for wearing a Black Lives Matter face mask

Whole Foods fired the Cambridge worker who led protests over Black Lives Matter masks. Now, they’re getting sued.

Video shows white men in N.J. mocking George Floyd’s death at protesthttps://youtu.be/d6v0WOiwCKY

All the best,

Dr. Derrick L. Campbell, Ed.D.

PO Box 4707 Cherry Hill, NJ 08034

(856) 566-3267

Author of:

  • Promoting Positive Racial Teacher Student Classroom Relationships
  • Promoting Positive Racial Teacher Student Classroom Relationships: Methodology
  • The Raccelerate Formula App
  • Treasures of Hidden Racism in Education
  • The Ultimate Guide to Classroom Racism Management

“Dr. Campbell did his part and now all we have to do is run with it.”
 ~ Tom Coleman ~
Woodstown-Pilesgrove Public Schools Superintendent of Schools


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

~ Joe Vas ~ Perth Amboy Mayor

“Dr. Campbell’s Cultural Relationship Training Program is comprehensive, informative, and should be required training for all schools”

~ Darrell Pope ~ Hutchinson Kansas NAACP President


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