JCPS fires teacher who used N-word at Carrithers Middle School – 89.3 WFPL News Louisville

Jefferson County Public Schools fired a teacher last month who insulted students and used the N-word in a middle school class.

Records obtained by WFPL News show Thomas Hicks, a math teacher at Carrithers Middle School, received notice of termination on May 2, 2022. Hicks’ termination letter says the district terminated his contract “based on insubordination, conduct unbecoming a teacher, inefficiency, incompetence and dereliction of duty.”

“You and another teacher used racially insensitive language and profanity in the presence of students,” reads the letter, describing the March 18 incident at Carrithers. “You have humiliated and embarrassed students in front of their peers by singling out specific students…you have repeatedly used the n-word, cracker, and profanity, among other things.”

Hicks and a second teacher, Lori Hays, were reassigned in March after an 8-minute video surfaced on social media showing teachers berating a group of students.

Hays did not swear in the video, but dismissed ‘COVID trauma’ as an excuse for bad behavior and said she was ‘tired’ of hearing about the role race plays in police interactions .

Records show Hays was initially fired, but the action was overturned after Hays filed a grievance challenging her dismissal. JCPS spokeswoman Carolyn Callahan confirmed that Hays is still employed by the JCPS.

Neither Hays nor Hicks responded to requests for comment Tuesday afternoon.

Records show history of difficulty managing student behavior

Hicks had a history of struggling with student behavior, and the teacher described himself as traumatized by his interactions with students, records show.

“You claim to have been physically threatened by several students. You allege that you have been verbally and physically assaulted by students and that students use homophobic, racial and derogatory language towards each other and towards adults…You said you were told, according to the time of during the day, that administrators may not be able to answer calls due to lunchroom duties, which you say puts teachers in check,” reads Hicks’ termination letter.

His termination letter also describes an October 2021 incident, in which the teacher lost consciousness and was treated by EMS after an argument with a student.

According to a transcript of a 2021 due process meeting, Hicks grabbed a student by the backpack after the student refused to put on his mask and insulted teachers. Hicks said the student pushed and elbowed him. He told administrators he “could feel like he was getting ready to have a panic attack” and walked to the parking lot where he passed out.

In response to the incident, Carrithers Middle School principal Marcella Franklin-Williams directed Hicks “not to pursue any student in any situation, but to notify the office or an administrator.”

Hicks told his union representative and Franklin-Williams that he gave the profanity-laden lecture in March 2022 after students entered the classroom throwing books, coins, shouting and shouting. using inappropriate language.

According to the letter, Hicks said he “felt cornered and had a ‘fight-flight-freeze’ reaction caused by trauma.”

Ultimately, district administrators determined that Hicks’ behavior on March 18, 2022 violated state and district policy. Franklin-Williams recommended termination.

“All students have the right to be treated with courtesy, respect and dignity, to be valued members of the school community, and to learn in a positive and safe environment,” Franklin-Williams wrote in her assessment of the ‘incident.

Seventh grader facing the fallout

Cheri Allen, whose daughter recorded the March 2022 incident on a mobile device, told the WFPL in May that she hoped Hicks’ firing would be a lesson for other educators, “that they should be more patient with the children and not picking on it”.

However, Allen said she was upset with the school’s general reaction. She said two other teachers confronted her seventh grade daughter and slammed her for sharing the video and talking about it to the media.

“She feels like she’s been shunned,” Allen said.

Allen said her daughter had to change her schedule to avoid some teachers. For a while, she wanted to transfer to a new school. But lately she’s been thinking about holding on for eighth grade.

“A lot of her peers tried to talk her into staying,” Allen said. “The kids think she’s a hero.”

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