River Ridge Elementary is in the city of SeaTac but part of the Kent School District. COURTESY PHOTO, Kent School District

River Ridge Elementary is in the city of SeaTac but part of the Kent School District. COURTESY PHOTO, Kent School District

Kent elementary school teacher accused of using racist language toward student

River Ridge Elementary instructor placed on administrative leave by Kent School District.

The Kent School District placed a River Ridge Elementary School teacher on administrative leave after the teacher reportedly used racist language toward a female student.

Family and friends of the student held a protest rally Wednesday morning, May 11, to demand the firing of the teacher for using racist language, according to Facebook posts. They protested and held signs on a sidewalk outside the school, 22420 Military Road S. The school, which opened in the fall, is in the city of SeaTac, but is part of the Kent School District.

“I would like to inform you of a decision to place a teacher on administrative leave,” River Ridge Principal Kendra Pratchett said in a May 10 email to school staff and families. “At this time, we cannot name the staff member.”

Pratchett also wrote: “Situations such as these are never easy and all of us have various emotions about how to respond,” Pratchett said. “Let’s be the example and refrain from speculation to help stop the spread of rumors. It is important we remember to set an example for our students and children in our response.”

Relatives of the girl claim the teacher assumed the girl and her friend were fighting, which they were not, and say the teacher called the girl “ghetto” and “ratchet,” and told her to shut her mouth and respect her, according to Facebook postings.

A parent of another student at the school sent an email to the Kent Reporter about the protest.

“Many students (were) protesting and calling for the termination of a teacher who has several eyewitnesses who have seen her physically hit, yell and cuss at Black and brown students,” according to the parent’s email.

The parent wants a better learning environment for her child.

“We send our kids to school with the assumption they will be safe,” the parent said. “Not only do we need to worry about potential school shootings, we also can’t trust the quality of people the school district allows in our children’s lives.”

Pratchett, the principal, said in her email to staff and families that she will update them about the teacher.

“We will continue to keep staff and families informed as needed,” Pratchett said. “We are taking steps to ensure students and staff remain safe as we continue to provide an exceptional learning environment for our students.”

Faith Sisley, spokesperson for the Kent School District, declined to answer numerous questions from the Kent Reporter about why the teacher was placed on leave or potential next steps by the district.

“Since this is an ongoing process with the Kent School District administration, we cannot comment with any specific details or information,” Sisley said in a May 11 email. “It is important to respect the privacy of those involved as we make every effort to provide the best possible learning environment for our students and support our families and staff.”

Pratchett did not respond to a Kent Reporter email for further information about the incident.

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