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Teacher Goes on Racist Rant, Not Realizing Zoom Was On

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The teacher, Kimberly Newman, has since resigned from Desert Willow Fine Arts, Science and Technology Magnet Academy in Palmdale, California. The school district may also be potentially facing a lawsuit.

What We Know:

  • Katura Stokes set up a parent-teacher meeting with Newman on Jan. 20 after her sixth-grade son had issues with remote learning. Stokes’ son and Newman completed a few assignments together, and Stokes was relieved to hear her son was caught up with everything. However, at the end of the Zoom call, Newman forgot to end the meeting for all attendees. She left her camera and microphone one. Unconscious of her guests, Newman began to spew racially insensitive comments.

“Two kinds of pieces of s***. They’re black, he’s black,” Newman told her husband in one part of the call.

  • Stokes began to record the rest of the meeting as soon as she noticed what Newman was doing. The video exposes Newman writing and sending an email to the boy’s other teachers and administrators. In the email, she was blatantly mocking and belittling Stokes. In another instance, Newman insulted Stokes’ parenting. She asserted that she and several other teachers tried to reach Stokes multiple times to discuss her child’s progress.

 “She’s answered her phone for the first time this entire year. I mean these parents, that’s what kind of piece of s— they are,” spouted Newman.

  • In her rant, Newman said to her husband that Stokes’ son was lying and making excuses about his technical difficulties. She proceeds to claim that this is what he has been taught to do because “this is what Black people do.”
  • Stokes decided to film the computer screen because she thought if she didn’t document it, no one would believe the comments’ disgracefulness. She also called the school’s principal during Newman’s tirade. The principal was just as shocked and phoned her. When Newman answered and was investigated about her remarks, she denied them. Yet, she ended the Zoom session.
  • School officials immediately put Newman on administrative leave. When she came in for a meeting two days later, she informed them she wanted to resign and left the office. The Palmdale School District has 45 days to file a normal response to Stokes’ accusations. She is asking for monetary for negligence, defamation, and civil rights violations. After the officials place the response, the parent has six months to file a lawsuit.
  • In addition, officials have said Newman’s actions abhorred them. District officials are sticking with Stokes, assuring that the “Palmdale School District has never and will never tolerate any racist behavior or speech.”
  • According to the Los Angeles Times, this is not the first time the district has been in hot water. In 2019, the principal of Summerwind Elementary School captured a photo of four teachers smiling while holding a small noose. The investigation concluded that the teachers did not understand the symbolism behind the lasso. The professors were put on paid leave and eventually left the district. The principal also was taken out of her position.

Stokes is also demanding that the school district improves its racial awareness training. This is crucial for Palmdale’s educational system, as enrollment is 75 percent Latino, 15 percent Black and 10 percent white, and other races. Stokes also says she is afraid this incident has scarred her and her son, as they feel they will never be treated fairly in an academic setting.

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Education

Spelman College Clearing Outstanding Student Balances for Last School Year

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Atlanta’s Spelman College, ranked the No. 1 Historically Black College & University (HBCU) for 14 years, has cleared all outstanding balances for the school year 2020-2021.  Spelman joins Clark Atlanta University and South Carolina State University, both of whom also recently cleared outstanding student balances.

Here is the press release from the college:

Spelman Clears Outstanding Student Balances from Academic Year 2020-2021

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Jazmyn Burton
Spelman College
404-798-5212
jburton8@spelman.edu

ATLANTA (June 26, 2021) To address the financial hardships that have taken a toll on students and families over the last year, Spelman College cleared outstanding student balances from AY 2020-2021, an action made possible by the receipt of funds from the federal government.

In addition, for all Spelman students during 2020-2021, the college implemented a significant 14 percent discount of tuition and fees, and reset tuition and mandatory fee rates back to 2017-2018 rates for AY 2021-2022.

This reset to the lower tuition rates of four years ago will have a long-term impact on affordability, said Mary Schmidt Campbell, Ph.D., president of Spelman.

“Spelman’s in-depth study into the financial aid needs of our students several years ago reinforced our understanding of one of this country’s fundamental inequities: high performing, high need students are drastically underfunded,” said Dr. Campbell. “If 2020 taught us anything, it is that racial fault lines continue to make the lives of African Americans quantitatively harder than those of non-Black Americans.”

Beyond the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the College is mindful of the amount of debt that families incur and has spent the last four years raising more than $120 million in new financial aid.

“Despite the financial hurdles, our academic outcomes are impressive. Half of the students Spelman serves are PELL eligible, that is low to moderate income, which makes our six-year graduation rate of 75 percent, 30 percentage points above the national average, a standout,” said Dr. Campbell.

During the pandemic, Spelman was able to directly impact every enrolled student in one or more of the following ways:

  • Refunding a portion of fees to enrolled students related to the spring 2020 semester
  • Establishing a student emergency fund in spring 2020
  • Offering a one-time 14 percent composite discount on tuition and fees for academic year 2020-2021
  • Providing federally funded emergency student financial aid grants to students June 2020, spring 2021, and summer 2021
  • Clearing outstanding student balances for 2020-2021
  • Developed a forthcoming partnership with Lyft to provide subsidized rides to a maximum of 500 students residing off-campus without their own vehicle


About Spelman College
Founded in 1881, Spelman College is a leading liberal arts college widely recognized as the global leader in the education of women of African descent. Located in Atlanta, the College’s picturesque campus is home to 2,100 students. Spelman is the country’s leading producer of Black women who complete Ph.D.s in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). The College’s status is confirmed by U.S. News & World Report, which ranked Spelman No. 54 among all liberal arts colleges, No. 19 for undergraduate teaching, No. 4 for social mobility among liberal arts colleges, and No. 1 for the 14th year among historically Black colleges and universities. The Wall Street Journal ranked the College No. 3, nationally, in terms of student satisfaction. Recent initiatives include a designation by the Department of Defense as a Center of Excellence for Minority Women in STEM, a Gender and Sexuality Studies Institute, the first endowed queer studies chair at an HBCU, and a program to increase the number of Black women Ph.D.s in economics. New majors have been added, including documentary filmmaking and photography, and partnerships have been established with MIT’s Media Lab, the Broad Institute and the Army Research Lab for artificial intelligence and machine learning. Outstanding alumnae include Children’s Defense Fund founder Marian Wright Edelman, Walgreens Boots Alliance CEO Rosalind Brewer, political leader Stacey Abrams, former Acting Surgeon General and Spelman’s first alumna president Audrey Forbes Manley, actress and producer Latanya Richardson Jackson, global bioinformatics geneticist Janina Jeff and authors Pearl Cleage and Tayari Jones. For more information, visit Spelman College.

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South Carolina State University erases $9.8 million in student debt

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South Carolina State University, a historically Black university in Orangeburg, said in a news release last week that the move will provide relief for students “who were previously unable to return to college due to financial hardship caused primarily by the COVID-19 pandemic.”

What We Know:

  • SC State University Acting President Alexander Conyers said in the release that the school is “committed to providing these students with a clear path forward so they can continue their college education and graduate without the burden of financial debt caused by circumstances beyond their control.”

“No student should have to sit home because they can’t afford to pay their past due debt after having experienced the financial devastation caused by a global pandemic,” he said.

  • The decision to erase the student debts will be funded by nearly $10 million the school received in federal aid.   SC State University is utilizing approximately $4 million in funds from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act and $5.8 million from the American Rescue Plan Act. Both pieces of legislation provided economic relief to Americans, businesses and other organizations amid the coronavirus pandemic.
  • Wilberforce University announced last month it would clear more than $375,000 in debt, including fines, fees and other balances paid directly to the school.  Clark Atlanta University announced that it too, would clear student debt from the 2020-2021 school year.

Debt among college students has increased more than 175% over the last 20 years.

 

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Clark Atlanta University Clears Students’ 2020-2021 Account Balances

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An Atlanta university says it is clearing student account balances for spring 2020 through summer 2021 to help students continue their education through the Covid-19 pandemic.

What We Know:

  • A statement via the school’s website specified that CAU is canceling all student account balances for the Spring 2020, Summer 2020, Fall 2020, Spring 2021, and Summer 2021 semesters. The private Methodist Atlanta-based school also mentioned that the generous gesture will not affect students’ future financial aid eligibility.

“We understand these past two academic years have been emotionally and financially difficult on students and their families due to the COVID-19 pandemic. That is why we will continue to do all we can to support their efforts to complete their CAU education,” said President French. “Their academic and professional future is important to me and the entire Clark Atlanta University family. We care about students and want to lighten their individual and family’s financial load so they can continue their journey in pursuing and attaining their educational and professional goals.”

  • The initiative was made possible partially due to the support CAU has received from the federal government under the CARES Act Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF). The CARES Act allotted $2.2 trillion to provide fast and direct economic aid to the American people impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Approximately $14 billion of that amount was given to the Office of Postsecondary Education as the HEERF.
  • The influx of money has allowed CAU to support students by providing emergency financial aid dollars, refunding a pro-rated amount of housing and meal charges for Spring 2020, discounting tuition and fees for the entire 2020-2021 academic year, purchasing 4,000 laptops from Dell Computers for every financially enrolled student and giving students with limited or no internet access in their homes hotspots.
  • Wilberforce University in Ohio recently announced at a joint commencement ceremony in May that it was clearing the debts of all 2020 and 2021 graduates who owed money to the institution. Delaware State, Shaw University and South Carolina State, among other HBCUs, have taken similar steps to relieve students of financial obligations.

Many colleges and universities are planning to resume in-person classes this Fall.

 

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