Some of Kent's Remarks Viewed as Racially Offensive

By: Tametria Conner Email
By: Tametria Conner Email

Some teachers in Meridian Public Schools say they are upset over remarks made by school superintendent Charlie Kent during an interview for WTOK's "On the Record" that aired Sunday.

"It's human nature that sometimes students migrate to people who look like them from time to time," said Kent, who is black.

The majority of the student population is black. Obviously, there are both black and white teachers in the schools.

The comment prompted criticism of Kent on WTOK's Web channel from people who said they are MPS teachers.

Ann Brown, who is white, came forward Monday to speak with Newscenter 11 about it. She was also the first teacher to publicly speak up during the community forums that were started by Wesley House executive director Ginger Stevens, to open dialog and allow residents to voice their concerns about problems in the Meridian Public School district.

"And I felt like we were free to talk," said Brown.

Brown says it was a very bold move, but she had to stand up for herself and other teachers who felt voiceless.

Brown says Kent's remark offended her.

"I feel like that was a divisive statement," said Brown. "We don't see our students as black or white, blue or brown."

And now with no more community forums scheduled, Brown said she is let down because she feels there was progress. Now she said she doesn't see how it will continue.

"There are still problems. There are still hurt feelings. There is still divisiveness that's been brought about it and needs to be healed, and we've sort of stopped midstream," Brown said.

Brown said she's concerned that the dialog will end.

Stevens says her mission is complete and now she must redirect her focus to the needs of The Wesley House.

"We have done our place at Wesley House," said Stevens.

She said she felt led to start the forums as an avenue for the community to be heard. That happened, and four forums later, a laundry list of concerns were aired. Stevens says now it's up to administrators and the school board to take action.

"We need specifics now, and the only ones that can do that now, that's not my place," Stevens said.

"Ginger started this for us and we appreciate it, and I hope we continue it," said Brown.

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