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Mother wants Mason Middle School teacher removed for 'lynching' comment to her son

Mother wants Mason Middle School teacher removed for 'lynching' comment to her son
Posted at 11:47 AM, Jan 12, 2018

Correction: The headlines on a prior version of this story indicated Ms. Agee-Bell wanted the teacher to be "fired." The headlines have been updated to make it clear she'd like the teacher removed pending further training. WCPO regrets this error.

MASON, Ohio -- A mother of an African-American student at Mason Middle School wants her son's teacher removed from the classroom for saying his classmates may "lynch" him for not focusing on his studies.

Social studies teacher Renee Thole made the statement to 13-year-old Nathan in the first week of December, ABC News reports, but he didn't tell his mother until a week later.

"He was in class, and the teacher told him that if he didn’t get on task his friends are going to form an angry mob and lynch you," said Nathan's mother, Tanisha Agee-Bell. "When she said that, he said back to her, 'That’s racist.' She approached him and said, 'Why do you think that’s racist? I would never do anything to hurt you."

Tracey Carson, the school's public information officer, said Thole admitted to the statement but "she immediately recognized she had done something wrong."

"Sometimes we mess up. Clearly, that was the case here," Carson wrote in a news release to WCPO. "And, even though this teacher did not set out to hurt a child - clearly that happened, too. It was amazing that this young black man was brave enough to confront his teacher when the incident happened."

Carson told ABC News Thole will not be removed from her job, but the school added a letter of reprimand to her personnel file.

"You realized that you cannot take that moment back but can only strive to make it a teachable moment for you and the students with your actions," reads the letter of reprimand, which the school district released to ABC News. "Be advised that future instances of problems in the areas we have discussed may warrant further disciplinary action to be taken against you that may lead to termination of your employment."

Agee-Bell has had her son pulled from Thole's class.

"I told her, 'The fact that you’re a social studies teacher and you don’t understand the racial implications of what you said to my son baffles me,'" Agee-Bell told ABC News.

Lynching remains a racially sensitive topic as approximately 3,446 African-Americans were lynched between 1882 and 1968 as a way for whites to resolve racial tension, according to the NAACP.

"We have seen an uptick in the number of racially and culturally insensitive comments in our schools and community," Carson wrote in a letter to parents. "As a district, we want to be very clear. We are not OK normalizing racial slurs. Anyone who does so faces disciplinary action."