ST. PAUL, Minn. (KMSP) - Black Lives Matter-St. Paul threatened to “shut down” Como Park Senior High School over a teacher’s alleged Facebook comments -- but after a meeting with the superintendent Monday, the group agreed to discontinue any planned protests at the school.
On Wednesday, special education teacher Theo Olson was placed on paid administrative leave, the district confirmed.
Prior to Monday's meeting, organizer Rashad Turner said the group would protest unless Olson is fired. On March 2, Turner posted screenshots of a pair of Olson’s Facebook comments on a page for a local teachers union. They read:
“Anyone care to explain to me the school-to-prison pipeline my colleagues and I have somehow created, or perpetuated, or not done enough to interrupt? Because if you can’t prove it, and campaigns you’ve waged to deconstruct adult authority in my building by enabling student misconduct, you seriously owe us real teachers an apology. Actually, an apology won’t cut it.”
“Phones and iPad devices, used for social media and gaming. There have always been rules for ‘devices,’ and defined levels of misconduct. Since we now have no backup, no functional location to send kids who won’t quit gaming, setting up fights, selling drugs, whoring trains, or cyber bullying, we’re screwed, just design our own classroom rules. Hopefully tomorrow’s settlement will begin to fix this.”
On his page, Turner called Olson “the epitome of a bad teacher. An example of a white supremacist teacher. Another indication that we need more teachers of color and more teachers who care about and will teach all kids.”
“Fb, meet Theodore Olson, the epitome of a bad teacher. An example of a white supremacist teacher. Another indication that we need more teachers of color and more teachers who care about and will teach all kids. Its teachers like Theodore Olson who bring the reputation of the great teachers in our district down. If the SPFT is protecting bad teachers like this one, who the is protecting our children ???? We have to be the ones to protect our children, they are under attack from the SPFT. This same teacher, feels that the teachers should govern the school.”
Statement from Superintendent Valeria Silva
"Today I had a productive and positive conversation with Rashad Turner and other representatives of Black Lives Matter Saint Paul. It is clear we share a common vision of high expectations and achievement for all students, and ongoing commitment to racial equity. I am thankful that Mr. Turner has chosen to discontinue any immediate protests planned at Como Park Senior High School.
"Saint Paul Public Schools (SPPS) has made positive strides toward reducing the academic disparities between student groups, but significant work lies ahead. This requires a shared responsibility: staff, students, families and the community all have critical roles to play.
"Along with the Board of Education, I am committed to continued conversations with our SPPS community, including Black Lives Matter, to bring our vision of a premiere education for all students to reality."