A teacher in St. Paul, Minnesota, has been put on paid administrative leave after being heavily criticized by the St. Paul affiliate chapter of Black Lives Matter for a controversial social media post, the Star Tribune reported Wednesday. The move comes a week after the group threatened “shutdown action” at Como Park Senior High School if the teacher, Theo Olson, was not fired for his comments.
Olson had reportedly expressed frustration on Facebook about the school district not providing teachers with enough support to deal with “kids who won’t quit gaming, setting up fights, selling drugs, whoring trains or cyberbullying.”
The comments drew backlash from the local Black Lives Matter chapter, which threatened “shutdown action.” Group members met Monday with Superintendent Valeria Silva, who announced later that day that organizer Rashad Turner had “chosen to discontinue” any planned protest and described the conversation as productive and positive.
Minnesota is worst place in the country for black people. This teacher is example of why it is the worst state4blks https://t.co/9iHXuYbW3w
— RashadAnthony Turner (@RashadsRepublic) March 3, 2016
Turner said Wednesday the move to put Olson on leave was a “great first step” and “we need to rid the district of all employees who share the belief in the racial bias and disdain that Mr. Olson shared so comfortably.” On Facebook, Turner previously described Olson as “an example of a white supremacist teacher.”
The school would not disclose why Olson was put on leave.
“I cannot share the reason why, as that is private personnel data,” said Toya Stewart Downey, a St. Paul School District spokeswoman, the Star Tribune reported.
Olson did not identify students by race in his post. His wife took to Facebook last week, writing on Turner’s page about how the issue was a misunderstanding.
“He was complaining about not getting help in the teachers’ contract for dealing with a small number of students who are making it hard for everyone — students and teachers alike,” wrote Karen Nelson Olson. “We are crying and shaking here at home.”
Teachers had reportedly considered Wednesday night a possible “sickout” at the school — when teachers falsely call in sick in protest — to show their support for Olson but decided against it. Olson is a special education teacher at the school.