An Oklahoma City high school science teacher and girls' volleyball coach is apologizing for an explosive, hate-filled rant he posted on Facebook Tuesday.
Southeast High School teacher Lamont Lowe, who is black, was angry after Oklahoma voters passed a measure that ends affirmative action programs in state government. The initiative, in place since 1984, required all state agencies to present an annual plan aimed at increasing the hiring of minorities and women. The amendment passed Tuesday with 59 percent of the vote, Reuters reports.
In response, Lowe posted on Facebook, according to KWTV:
I live in a state that hates me, hates women… Revoking Affirmative Action is spitting in my face… this is the reason I hate OU sooners & the okc Thunder & everything that represents this racist state!!! Die OKLAHOMA… hope a tornado blows away the capital n all the rednecks in it.!!!
The Oklahoma population is approximately 76 percent white, 8 percent black, 9 percent Native American and 2 percent Asian, according to 2011 figures from the Census Bureau. Another 9.2 percent are of Latino origin, but are included in "applicable race categories" because they can be of any race.
While one parent told KWTV that Lowe doesn't belong in Oklahoma, students say he is a good teacher. In a statement to KRMG, Oklahoma City School officials said that they recognize the teacher's right to free speech, but are "disappointed and saddened" by his post and "do not agree with or support his comments."
In an off-camera interview with KWTV, Lowe corrects himself to say that he does not hate Oklahomans.
"It was a very, very bad choice of words and I am sorry," he said.
Similar problems with social media have affected communities across the country. In July, a Bradenton, Fla. parent found a Facebook discussion among teachers of G.D. Rogers Garden Elementary School in which one educator calls a student the "evolutionary link between orangutans and humans." Another teacher responded that the comment made her "laugh out loud."
Last year, a first grade teacher at Paterson School 21 in Paterson, N.J., was suspended after writing on Facebook that she felt like a "warden," and referred to students as future criminals. The school board said, however, that officials cannot remove a teacher there for what is said on Facebook and can only act if it spills over into the classroom.
And just weeks earlier in Doylestown, Pa., Central Bucks East High School English teacher Natalie Munroe was suspended for blogging about her students and referring to them as "disengaged, lazy whiners."
Munroe was reinstated at the school because she had a "legal right to her job," but was later fired for poor performance.
At least 40 school districts nationwide have adopted social media policies. From New York City to Missouri, districts are beginning to discipline teachers for inappropriate Facebook activity. But some educators point out that social media can be a beneficial learning and teaching resource if used properly.