Shanna Swearingen, the principal at Ponderosa Elementary School, has apologized after she joked that she would tell police a black student with special needs had a gun.
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Swearingen commented on a boy with special needs who reportedly has a history of behavioral problems and a tendency to run out of class.
Swearingen said that the next time the boy runs out of class, “We won’t chase him. We will call the police and tell them he has a gun so they can come faster.”
The principal's comment was overheard, and word spread through a local Facebook group, angering parents.
The boy's guardian, who hadn’t heard about it, was contacted by KPRC2, according to the station. He now reportedly has a meeting scheduled with the school.
Swearingen apologized in a letter to parents:
"It is with a heavy heart that I write this message. As many of you may be aware, KPRC ran a story late yesterday about Ponderosa Elementary and an incident that occurred last week where I made an insensitive comment that was not reflective of who I am nor how much I care about every student who attends this school.
"Your children mean the world to me, and I’m heartbroken that my thoughtless remark has caused disruption to the hard work underway here at Ponderosa. Here in our community, we had a hard year with Hurricane Harvey, and the damage it caused to a large part of our neighborhood. I was so proud of the unity seen in this community during the recovery efforts.
"Please know that the same commitment and drive that I had to make things right for our children after the storm, I have today as I work to make things right now with both staff and parents.
"I am truly sorry for the comment I made. It does not in any way reflect the love and care I have for the students of Ponderosa."
Shanna Swearingen, Principal
Ponderosa Elementary School"
Michael Burnett, the PTA president, said the comment doesn't align with Swearingen’s character.
“I don’t believe that it’s fair for people to take to social media on something that is hearsay,” he said. “I think the best thing would have been to come to her and ask the question.”
The principal has been awesome. She broke her back during Hurricane Harvey and worked in homes of all races,” he added.
Some are pushing for disciplinary action that includes special needs and sensitivity training.
"It's disgusting. That kind of comment is disgusting even if it was a joke how could you recant something like that?" parent Jessica Spoonemore said. "Children are getting killed by gun violence and that was very unnecessary and disturbing especially for an elementary school."
"It's probably going down racial lines whether we want it to or not. I think it speaks to more of what we have going on in our country as much as it is going on at this school, but some action needs to be taken," parent Christopher Mitchell said.
The school released a statement, saying, "while the comment was made in jest, it was inappropriate and should never have been made."
On Wednesday, Superintendent Rodney E. Watson said "strong disciplinary action has been taken" against Swearingen, but details would not be disclosed as per district policy.
"As an African-American male and father, I understand the concern we are seeing around the careless and inappropriate comment that was made by our Ponderosa Elementary principal," said Watson in the statement, which was obtained by BuzzFeed News.
"As a diverse school district serving a student population that is 46 percent Hispanic and 40 percent African-American, my top priority is ensuring the dignity, respect, and safety for all our students," said Watson.
I used basically the same headline that has been portrayed on social media to make a point. The headline of every article regarding this story specifically calls out the student’s race and disability; however, the principal’s joke had nothing to do with those attributes.
“Tell them he has a gun so they come faster” is an obvious reference to school shootings.
There has to come to a point where this nonsense stops. The marches and the kids screaming for gun control. It is ridiculous. If this principle had actually gone through with such a horrific lie, it would have put that poor child in serious harm's way.
I recall one of the Parkland Student’s screaming “he wouldn’t have harmed that many students with a knife”, in regards to the shooter. In 2014 there was a stabbing in a train station in China that killed 29 and wounded 130. The Parkland shooting left 17 dead. Banning guns will not stop murderers.
Please tell me how you feel about the push for gun control? Leave your comment below.
<b>By: Lexy </b>
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Seems a little too late. The apology sounds sincere but the damage was already done. Sad a dedicated leader of the school had a lapse of judgement. Hope the family and community can find it in their hearts to forgive.
That principle should be fired. She could have gotten that child killed if the police thought he had a gun. Her apology isn't good enough, but her removal as principle is. I'm sick of these people in our educational system.
As far as gun control the only thing I'm for is a more thorough system of back ground checks. There's not a lot we can do when our own FBI won't act upon our phone calls alerting them to a potential school shooter.
Great apology, but sorry it's too late. The damage had already been done. She needs to be fired. I hope nothing racial comes out of this, but I can easily see that happening. This principal went way over the line.
The principal used very poor judgement There needs to be a reasonable explanation for not removing her from her position.
Thanks for bring this to our attention.
That principal should be fired. Words are like toothpaste and all.
This is wrong on more then one level.
I'm tired of the push. Tired of them using BS to remove our rights one by one. Nonsense. I reserve the right to protect myself from harm… Period. Only way they're getting my weapons is if they provide me with a 24/7 armed guard & you know that isn't happening.
I’m not quite sure how I feel about this situation to be honest. I don’t believe it was a racial comment, I believe it was intended as a comment about the police and what would get them there the fastest. It was a thoughtless comment though based on the recent events in our Country. I believe the Principal should be disciplined, as comments like this one is never good. Great thought provoking article Lexy.
Honestly I think this was probably a very careless comment overheard by someone who acted on it. We cannot know the intent only the consequences which I agree, if the principal seriously intended, could have put lots of innocent people in danger. It’s a great article that quite frankly leaves me with lots to think about.
It seems that the left (politically correct crowd) requires that everyone be perfect. The comment was inappropriate–yes, stupid–yes,
but to threaten one's career over an off hand remark? Everyone take a deep breath. Concern over dumb jokes needs to be put in perspective. RELAX.
Nobody ever should have a bad day or get frustrated over situations and make an 'off' comment, because the speech police are never far away. We used to call them tattle-tales or snitches. Every other day some new person is in the news having to apologize. Obviously it means that this liberal Utopia fairyland that they've created as a one size fits all actually does not.
Agree with SandyLee No. 24902. I know everybody says things that can be misinterpreted. The teacher may have been frustrated at the slow response by the police and the facts that her hands are tied as to ways to keep this kid from running off. It may have been something like "I can't keep him from running away and I can't drop everything to chase him down with leaving the other students so I have to call the police. They get here when they get here so maybe if I told them he has a gun they would act more promptly.
Well written, Doing a great job, sounds like this woman could get someone killed, Im sorry but that woman don't seem to have a lot of sense/ people make mistakes by not useing there brains I guess the mouth is quicker. Jack!!** enjoyed it Lexy!!
The principal needs to go. Joking is perfectly fine. Making inappropriate jokes is for the most part fine. This is a child and he should never be the subject of any jokes likes that.
The principal made a horrible joke that wasn't supposed to be broadcast all over fagbook. Yes what she said was wrong but on the other hand one can see the frustration she is dealing with in the handicapped kids outbursts. I see her frustration being taken out in the form of a joke due to the learning expense of the other students. Again what she said was untasteful but shouldn't have been broadcast via fagbook.
Our 2nd amendment has zero bearing on this untasteful statement. We need to stop bringing up guns every time anything school related happens. I was brought up with a military family and was taught at a very young age to respect firearms and our 2nd amendment. Our 2nd amendment is the most important as all the others can be trampled after the 2nd is taken away or restricted.
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