The school department in Waterbury, Conn., is investigating after getting a complaint that a middle school teacher called an African-American student an inappropriate term.
According to Paul Guidone, chief operating officer, the teacher, Kathleen Pyles, works at North End Middle School and has been placed on administrative leave until the investigation is completed.
Officials said the incident occurred in May. They were told the teacher called the child by the wrong name, and when he pointed that out she responded by saying, "How about black boy? Go sit down, black boy."
“We wish to assure parents that we take this allegation very seriously. We do not tolerate or condone the claimed behavior from our staff, and if the allegation of making racist remarks is proven true, the district will take appropriate action,” Guidone said in a statement.
Leaders of the African American community were stunned when they heard the accusations.
“Totally shocked. I couldn't believe someone in a professional position like that could make a statement such as that,” said Jimmy Griffin, who is with the Connecticut African American Emancipation Challenge.
He took his concerns to the school board Thursday night. “They need to take some real serious action this is no joke this is a very racist comment,” Griffin added.
The board members listened and implemented a policy change.
“It doesn't set a good example for the kids,” said Karen Harvey.
She and the superintendent decided sensitivity training for faculty and staff is necessary.
“I think there’s definitely a need within the Waterbury school system and it’s something we’re addressing immediately,” said Dr. Kathleen Oulette.
Earlier Thursday, the Waterbury Teachers Association issued a statement saying they work to ensure every student has a qualified, caring and committed teacher.
"All of us here at the Waterbury Teachers Association are deeply committed to the success of every child," said Kevin Egan, president of the teacher's union.
This article includes reporting from The Associated Press and NBCConnecticut.com.
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