An Apex Middle School teacher in Apex, North Carolina, was suspended following a disturbing incident that was caught on camera and went viral on social media. WNCN reports that while Dick Wesendunk was arguing with one of his African-American students on Wednesday, he compared the boy to a slave.
The 55-second video was recorded by a student at Apex Middle School, and it shows the teacher yelling at a 13-year-old boy, who asked to remain anonymous, in a corner of the classroom known as the “Cougar Den,” where students go to finish their school work. The seventh grader’s mother, Ayona Wilson, stated that the incident unfolded after her son began laughing while another student, who is believed to be Caucasian, was dancing in the classroom.
In the video, it appears as though Wesendunk is irritated. He can be heard telling the boy the following.
“Did I call you a n*****? No. I said you’re being controlled by him and that’s exactly what happened to slaves. They were controlled by their owners. You’re letting him control you.”
The Apex Middle School teacher and the student continued to exchange words throughout the video, but it is inaudible as the students in the classroom can be heard laughing uncontrollably. The video was subsequently uploaded on Snapchat, which humiliated the Apex Middle School student, according to his mother, who had taken him out of school.
There is no word if the student will return to Apex Middle School or if his mother will enroll the child in another school for the upcoming school year.
It was alleged that the Apex Middle School teacher later explained that he was only “using the slave term as an analogy” in an effort to get the students to start listening to adults, but the boy stated that the Wake County teacher “could have used a better type of analogy or a better word to describe what I was doing instead of calling me a slave.”
The teen went on to say that he didn’t know what to do or say when the Apex Middle School teacher referred to him as a slave.
Wilson stated that she was hurt after learning that her son’s middle school teacher compared him to a slave as she never wanted her “children to expect that.” As a teacher, Wesendunk “should know what to say and what not to say to these children.”
“He also had to know some of the things he says can hurt people and that is going to stick with my son forever,” Wilson added.
After a video showed the Apex Middle School teacher comparing one of his African-American students to a slave, the school principal released the following letter to parents.
“This morning I became aware of a video that showed a teacher arguing with a student. I immediately contacted the WCPSS Human Resources department because the language used by the teacher raised concerns. They, in turn, suspended the teacher pending an investigation.
“While we are not at liberty to discuss confidential personnel information, please be assured that the district takes any complaints against personnel seriously and is committed to fair and thorough investigations and resolutions of such matters.”
“In addition, I want to make it clear that we have high expectations for behavior and policies addressing codes of ethics for the teachers in our building,” the letter continued. “We strictly adhere to these expectations and enforce these policies. I regret having to share this news with you, but I assure you that I am committed to maintaining a standard of excellence for our school. Please contact me with any questions.”
Wake County Public Schools spokesperson Lisa Luten stated that the incident is being investigated.