Nashville students stage walkout from classrooms to support teacher placed on leave over 'N-word' assignment
Several students at Cane Ridge High School in Antioch staged a walkout after their English teacher was placed on leave over an assignment that initiated a debate about handling race and other tough subjects in the classroom
Several students from a Nashville school staged a walkout on Friday, November 22, to support a Metro teacher who assigned homework using the "n-word" that some parents considered inappropriate.
It all started when the English teacher at Cane Ridge High School in Antioch was placed on leave after the assignment sparked a debate about handling race and other tough subjects in the classroom.
It was said that the internet assignment was given after showing the movie 'Fences' starring Denzel Washington. The move was approved by Metro Schools, but the homework assignment was not, and at the top of the page, a racial slur was written.
One of the students posted it on social media and the school took action. Steven Small, a Metro teacher, was placed on leave.
Following the incident, a student started an online petition showing support for the teacher. The student said the teacher is "being persecuted for trying to prepare us for the real world by gifting us with the ability to think critically."
On Friday, students continued their support by walking out of their classrooms. The homework was assigned to 30 students as they discussed 'Fences', a play and film adaptation exploring the topic of race as a black father struggles to provide for his family.
The handout given to students asked them to write a one-page paper on the derogatory term and answer several questions including how the word is racist and how it is used.
In the assignment provided by a parent to NewsChannel 5, the term was spelled out. The play also uses the language frequently.
The teacher involved has been with MNPS since 2015 and received no disciplinary actions in the past. Spokesperson Sean Braisted of MNPS said the assignment has been retracted and canceled.
Metro Schools confirmed the teacher's administrative leave ended on November 21. "A notice of disciplinary action will go out to Mr. Small by early next week, and Mr. Small will have an opportunity to follow the normal procedure for review before the disciplinary action is final."
"In addition to any disciplinary action, training provided by the Diversity and Equity team will be required," the statement added.