A principal at Ponderosa Elementary School in Houston, TX is being criticized for a disgusting joke she made about a black special-needs student. According to HuffPost, Shanna Swearingen told a joke to three staff members on April 17 about the student, who is known to run from class. Swearingen reportedly referred to the next time the student ran away, saying, “We won’t chase him. We will call the police and tell them he has a gun so they can come faster.”

The comments surfaced thanks to a Facebook group about the school. “It’s disgusting. ... That kind of comment is disgusting. Even if it was a joke, how could you even recant something like that?” Jessica Spoonemore, a student’s parent, told KPRC. “Children are getting killed [by] guns, violence. ... That was very unnecessary and disturbing, especially for an elementary school.”

The guardian of the special-needs student is going to be meeting with school officials about the incident. Swearingen has declined interviews from news outlets but sent a letter to parents of the school on Tuesday. “Your children mean the world to me, and I’m heartbroken that my thoughtless remark has caused disruption to the hard work underway here at Ponderosa,” she wrote. “Please know that the same commitment and drive that I had to make things right for our children after the storm, I have today as I work to make things right now with both staff and parents. I am truly sorry for the comment I made. It does not in any way reflect the love and care I have for the students of Ponderosa.”

The Spring Independent School District shared a statement calling the comment “insensitive” but has not revealed whether or not Swearingen will face disciplinary action. “While the comment was made in jest, it was inappropriate and should never have been made,” the statement read. “The district will continue to monitor the school climate at Ponderosa to ensure that incidents like this do not occur again.”

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