BLUFFTON, S.C. (WTOC) - For the second time this week, the Beaufort County School District is apologizing for making a racially insensitive remark to students.
The first came from a Tuesday night meeting where parents say the African American students at Lady’s Island Middle School were targeted and embarrassed by an assembly held last week when the principal told students that data showed that 78 percent of African American students were not reading at grade level.
“How? How do you, in the year 2020 feel so comfortable?" Asked Takesha Hamilton, parent of two May River High School students. "Whether it was partly using the word or whatever, how do you feel so comfortable using that word when you could have just used the N-word?”
That’s the question MRHS parents had after Principal Todd Bornscheuer used a racial slur in an assembly for Black History Month on Thursday.
“It was in reference to some of the language that we see in our hallways and in our society, and the need for us to maybe be the difference in eradicating that language,” Bornscheur said.
WTOC asked if he immediately realize that you had made a mistake, or did he feel like it was O.K. at that time in that context?
“You know, the best way I can answer that is this wasn’t a prepared speech, obviously. There was a moment of transition in the program that - where I spoke. So, I knew that that was not the appropriate context.”
Bornscheuer sent an apology voicemail to all the parents and took time to apologize to the students, and made himself available for one-on-one conversations, in addition to holding two parent meetings to apologize for his remarks on Friday morning and evening.
Here is a transcription of that voicemail:
Good evening, parents. I’m calling tonight to apologize for comments I made during an assembly today. My comments addressed students’ use of racially demeaning terms in our classrooms and hallways. But I made a serious mistake by using an example of one of those terms. In trying to relate to my students, I upset some of them. And for that, I apologize from the bottom of my heart. As an educator for 24 years, the last thing I want to do is hurt students or their parents. I will make myself available at two times Friday for parents who want to meet at school – first at 10:30 a.m., and then after the workday at 6 p.m. If you have concerns, I invite you to attend and meet with me and other interested parents. I also plan to meet with students Friday morning and apologize to them in person. Thank you for your support of May River High School, and good evening.
“I think our kids are capable of mistakes. I think we are capable of mistakes, and what’s important in life is what we learn and what we take forward and I’ll just say I’ve learned a lot,” Bornscheur said.
For parents like Hamilton though, they aren’t totally satisfied. We asked if she felt better after the conversation. She took a deep breath and paused before answering.
“I can’t say better, because it happened. So the fact that we had to be here, doesn’t make me feel good.”
A spokesperson with the Beaufort County School District said that the entire district will undergo some sort of cultural sensitivity training.
Bornscheuer has been an educator for 24 years and a principal for 13.
Beaufort County Schools said he will not be placed on any sort of leave, and they can’t comment on internal personnel matters.