OMAHA, Nebraska – Wednesday morning, the superintendent of Omaha Public Schools met with the family of a middle school student to discuss an incident that occurred this week, according to the district.
After the meeting, Patricia Coleman Ansari, the mother, told 6 News, “This is unacceptable, and we hope to be the spark that lights a journey.”
Beveridge Middle School student said she heard an OPS employee utter a racial slur, drawing the attention of the school district’s top leadership.
“As I was coming down the corridor, I overheard him speaking to my expelled friend and using the N-word… Jael Brown, a seventh-grader, told 6 News that he said, “This N-word was very bothersome.”
Jael stated that after hearing a staff member use this word, she was taken out of class to speak with the staff member.
“He was like, ‘You know,’ he said. ‘I believe you heard things incorrectly. “And, you know, I didn’t say that,’… in an attempt to win me over,” she continued.
The staff member afterwards called Jael’s mother, who reported that the staff person stated that Jael may have misunderstood or misheard him.
Coleman Ansari stated, “He proceeded to tell a tale about how he approached a group of females, one of whom was my daughter, who were using the N-word, and he said he never uses the N-word and this is not the place to use it.”
Principal Tiffany Molina wrote a letter to school families and staff on Tuesday informing them of the two events, according to an email from an OPS spokeswoman.
“In one instance, a kid reported overhearing staff members using improper language in a dialogue,” “In a separate incident, a staff member used derogatory language while instructing children on the use of good judgment,” the letter adds.
The OPS email states that Superintendent Dr. Cheryl Logan met with Coleman Ansari at the Teacher Administration Center on Cuming Street “to discuss the situation with them directly.”
The district stated that they initiated an investigation immediately, but that “privacy concerns restrict the information we can provide.”
Read the letter sent to families
Dear Beveridge Middle Staff and Families,
A safe, welcoming environment at Beveridge Middle is always our priority. We care deeply about our students and staff.
This week, we received two separate reports of staff potentially using offensive and inappropriate language. In one, a student said they overheard a conversation among staff using inappropriate language. In the other, unrelated situation, a staff member repeated the offensive language when guiding students on the use of good judgement.
In both situations, we acted immediately to investigate. We take this most seriously. We value an open and inclusive community and are working to understand what occurred.
Our school shares this message to ensure open communication with our families. Privacy concerns limit the information we can offer, but please call the school at 531-299-2280 if you need to talk with our administration.
Thank you for your continued support of Beveridge Middle and Omaha Public Schools.
Tiffany Molina Principal
Coleman Ansari stated that she was not completely satisfied with the meeting since she first desires to see progress.
She stated, “I got to observe something being built.” Before I can believe that you’re serious, something must be set in stone or undergo a significant transformation.
She was delighted with the OPS leadership’s words of encouragement, but she hopes for more.
Coleman Ansari stated, “I look forward to him receiving the harshest punishment possible, as this will send a message and hold him accountable for his actions.”
She expressed her displeasure at having to teach her daughter the same lessons she learned years before.
“Therefore, my 12-year-old daughter is learning firsthand about prejudice. Therefore, I must discuss racism with her,” said Coleman Ansari.
She did not know where to turn for assistance, so she eventually contacted Sherman Wells, the co-founder of Untamed and a community activist in north Omaha for years. The organization is striving to improve the Black community by bringing together grassroots organizations.
“Before that, we were basically underground rappers doing various activities throughout the city,” he explained.
For Wells, assisting others is a calling; he wants to provide community members in need with the assistance he lacked as a child.
“I was the battered child, you know; I was the victim of ridicule and bullying in school. “Therefore, I desired to be someone who did not exist when I was a child,” he stated.
Wells assisted Jael and her mother in discussing her daughter’s difficulties with a school employee with OPS administration.
He has been giving a group of those who do not believe they are being heard a voice.
“They have a voice; they simply don’t realize it,” he stated. “Therefore, all we do is point out that they already possess the voice to stand up, speak for themselves, and defend themselves.”