Texas Teacher Fired After Posting Racially Charged Facebook Rant About Pool Incident
A teacher from the Frenship Independent School District in Wolfforth, Texas (outside Lubbock), has been fired for posting a controversial, racially charged rant on her Facebook page. Karen Fitzgibbons, who taught fourth grade at Bennett Elementary School, wrote the following on Wednesday, June 10 (photo here):
This makes me ANGRY! This officer should not have to resign. I’m going to just go ahead and say it… The blacks are the ones causing the problems and this ‘racial tension.’ I guess that is 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 it and didn’t care. I’m almost to the point of wanting them all segregated on one side of town so they can hurt each other and leave the innocent people alone. Maybe the 50s and 60s were really on to something, Now, let the bashing of my true and honest opinion begin …GO! #imnotracist #imsickofthemcausingtrouble #itwasagatedcommunity
She was reacting to the resignation of former McKinney, Texas, police officer Eric Casebolt, whose controversial recent actions set off a major public debate about police tactics. Casebolt was called to investigate a disturbance at a community pool. Upon arriving, he appeared to treat several juveniles very aggressively and, in the eyes of many, in a racially disparate manner. His behavior was filmed by a bystander and uploaded to YouTube (see video below).
The Frenship ISD released the following statement Thursday afternoon:
On Wednesday afternoon, Frenship Independent School District was made aware of a statement posted on a Facebook page by a Frenship ISD employee earlier this week.
Frenship ISD is deeply disappointed in the thoughtlessness conveyed by this employee’s post. We find these statements to be extremely offensive, insensitive, and disrespectful to our Frenship community and citizens everywhere. These comments in no way represent the educational environment we have created for our students.
The employee whose account is responsible for the post will be relieved of her teaching duties at Frenship ISD. We hold our employees responsible for their public conduct even when they are not on active duty as district employees. Employees are held to the same professional standards in their public use of electronic media as they are for any other public conduct. This recent conduct was unacceptable. Frenship ISD hopes communities, parents and students understand that these remarks do not reflect the views of our district, teachers and staff.
Fitzgibbons (right) deleted the post shortly after publishing it. After the controversy exploded, she deleted her entire Facebook account. She spoke to the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal, saying she had “apologized to the appropriate people,” and that the rant “was not directed at any one person or group.” She expressed hope that the whole incident would blow over.
With her subsequent firing, that is obviously not the case. Prior to her termination, she had followed up her Avalanche comments with this more thorough attempt to apologize:
First, to anyone, of any race, that I have offended, I sincerely apologize. That was not my intent. I let my emotions get the best of me, and instead of taking a deep breath, vented in an inappropriate way. I am truly sorry. I don’t want my comments to reflect poorly on my district or campus, as the words came from me, not them. Frenship and Bennett are amazing places full of people (teachers, administrators, custodial staff, cafeteria staff, parents, and others) who love, care about, and go the extra mile for all students, regardless of race. As a teacher and lifelong educator, I strive to do the same. I always tell my students that once they are my student, they will always be my child. As an educator, I do teach my students about treating all people fairly and with dignity. I regret that my words are now calling that into question. I can, and will, use this situation as a real world example of how emotions and words can cause hurt to others. I am ashamed of my post. As I look back and reflect, I see how hurtful those words sounded. It is my hope that my sincere apology will be accepted.
Fitzgibbons has not released a statement since news broke of her firing.