A Texas teacher was placed on administrative leave this week after she texted a photo of her foot on the neck of a Black student.
According to several outlets, the incident took place at Lamar Elementary School in Greenville, where 10-year-old Zaelyn Jackson reportedly got on the floor to “stage” the picture. The boy’s mother told NBC 5 that her family has a “joke relationship” with the unidentified teacher, and explained the events leading up to the photo.
She claimed the teacher told her son, “Make sure you bring this paper back or I’m going to get on to you, and your mama told me to get on to you if I need to … I’m going to put my foot on your neck.”
The mother said her son laughed in response and then “bet” the teacher she wouldn’t following through with the lighthearted threat. Several students reportedly encouraged Zaelyn to get on the ground to allow the teacher to place her foot on his neck. He did—and the teacher photographed the stunt and texted it to the boy’s mother.
“He laid on the ground and that’s when I guess she put her foot on there,” she recalled. “Again like I said, I don’t think there was any harm intended, there was no bad intentions and regardless of what anybody says I’m going to stand on that.”
The mother eventually showed it to some of her relatives, and the picture was shared on Facebook. The post immediately sparked outrage, with many saying the imagery evoked the police killing of George Floyd, a Minnesota Black man who died after an officer knelt on his neck for more than nine minutes. While some are demanding the teacher be fired over the photograph, the Zaelyn’s mother says the teacher doesn’t deserve to lose her job.
“She’s a good person, she’s a good woman, I mean everybody is going to feel the way that they feel, and I understand in today’s society you can’t joke like that, you can’t play around like that, maybe it’s just a lesson learned …” the mom explained. “She assured me that she would never do anything to hurt me or my child, and I know that she didn’t need to tell me that. Her last words to me were, ‘Do me a favor, and regardless of what happens with this situation, never stray away from the fact that I love you, I love your son, and I will never do anything to hurt y’all.”
Demtrus Liggins, the superintendent of the Greenville Independent School District, issued an apology to students’ parents, and reassured them that the district would take the appropriate action following an investigation.
“My initial thought when seeing the photo was actually disgust and concern for the child in the picture. Again it’s completely unacceptable, it’s completely out of the norm for our community and expectation that we have here at Greenville ISD,” Liggins said.“Our community embraces diversity and we celebrate our differences here and we take the safety and dignity and respect of our students and staff very seriously. So to have something like this occur, although I do not have all the details for it since it’s under investigation, there’s no excuse for it.”
also said the photograph was “staged,” and that the teacher has been suspended as the district conducts an investigation. School officials have also released an apologuy