"Sit your nappy-headed self down."
This was the comment that Brea Persley, a 13-year-old student at Century Academy For Excellence in Inglewood, Calif., received from teacher Kelly Dempsey last week in front of the entire classroom.
"When the kids started laughing, it brought back the memories of when I was in 4th grade and kids used to laugh at me and tease me," Persley said to KTLA in an exclusive video interview. KTLA footage of the school indicates that Dempsey is a white woman.
But it was the charter school's response to the teacher's actions that stunned Shronda Williams, Persley's mother, more than the alleged insensitive remark. According to Williams, principal Giselle Edman, who is African-American, shifted the blame onto Persley, saying, "Bad things need to happen to mean kids."
Persley later received an expulsion letter, citing her mother's scolding of the principal as the reason she was banned from school.
The Century Academy for Excellence is a charter school in the Lennox Elementary School District. There are approximately 300 students enrolled at the school, according to localschooldirectory.com. African-American students make up 92.5 percent of the student population, and 87.7 percent of the school is eligible for either a free or reduced lunch.
UPDATE 6/7: In a released statement, the Century Academy for Excellence claims that Principal Giselle Edman did not expel Brea Persley from school -- nor had she ever planned to. However, Dr. Edman did acknowledge the incident between Brea and her teacher, and called the language unfortunate.
"I was shocked to hear that a teacher would use this type of language; there is no way that this type of language is acceptable," said Dr. Edman in the press release. "There is no way that we would not address this situation, we are making this clear to everyone that this behavior will never be tolerated."
The school hopes that Brea will return to school and take her final exams so that she can complete the year in good standing.
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