Texas elementary school teacher fired for racist Facebook post

Jun 12, 2015 at 8:00 p.m. ET
Image: Brandon Brooks/YouTube

In just a few days, a video showing how a McKinney police officer poorly handled a call to a teenage pool party disturbance has gone viral. One Texas police officer resigned after pulling a gun on a crowd of teens, and a principal and an elementary school teacher have lost their jobs.


But first, what happened at this pool party that was essentially a spark that started a forest fire? In the viral video, you can see police officer Eric Casebolt manhandling a 15-year-old in a bikini. Corporal Casebolt had arrived at the scene to respond to teenagers using the pool without permission. Casebolt cursed at the group and pointed his gun at two teenage bystanders.

Dorothy A. Brown, writing for CNN, says the escalated incident had "everything to do with race." Brown explains, "A white, out-of-control police officer sees a group of black teenagers, thinks 'thugs' and responds accordingly. They see Casebolt yelling at the top of his lungs and cursing at children. Yes, children. This was no mob; this was a group of teens hanging out together having some harmless fun at the pool."

Karen Fitzgibbons, fourth-grade teacher at Bennett Elementary School in Wolfforth, Texas, clearly did not agree with Brown's take on the viral video. Fitzgibbons callously posted to Facebook that she was "almost to the point" of supporting racial segregation after watching how the white police officer interacted with the black teenagers in McKinney.

Of course, Fitzgibbons' Facebook post has already been deleted, in which she stated, "I'm just going to just go ahead and say it...the blacks are the ones causing the problems and this 'racial tension.' I guess that's what happens when you flunk out of school and have no education. I'm sure their parents are just as guilty for not knowing what their kids were doing; or knew and didn't care."

The amount of ignorance in this teacher's Facebook post is so astonishing it makes my stomach hurt — and let's not forget this is a woman who has been entrusted with our children. Fortunately Fitzgibbons was fired by her school district for the horribly racist statement she made on a public forum.

She's in good company. After making a Facebook comment in support of Corporal Casebolt, North Miami Senior High School principal Alberto Iber was removed from his position as principal and assigned to administrative duties in the Miami-Dade School District. School district officials were apparently offended by what Iber wrote in response to the McKinney incident.

Iber commented on a Miami Herald story on Facebook, saying of Casebolt, "He did nothing wrong. He was afraid for his life. I commend him for his actions."

As plenty of his students pointed out, Iber made a big mistake in making this comment as the principal of a "majority black school." Another student argued that a principal should not defend a man who pulled a gun on teenagers — and this student would be right.

What started with a disturbing viral video has spiraled into a huge mess, costing two school staff members their jobs. It's hard to sympathize with Fitzgibbons and Iber. They chose to publicize what they surely knew to be offensive views on Facebook, Fitzgibbons especially.

At the end of the day, let's not forget that these teenagers involved in a racially charged incident with a police officer are just that — children, as Brown points out. I have no love lost for this teacher and principal who lost their jobs. If it's your job to care for children from all walks of life, it's also your job to defend them.

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