A North Carolina public school teacher has been suspended for writing the word “loser” on a 6th grade student’s notebook. “He thought it was funny, the kids thought it was funny…our school district doesn’t think it’s funny,” said Jan Blunt, Communications Director for Buncombe County Schools.
Rex Roland, who is a social studies teacher at Enka Middle School, was suspended without pay for two weeks, Blunt said. Roland, who has been a faculty member for 12 years, was being playful with the student when he wrote “loser” on the girl’s papers, Blunt told CNN. “She laughed. She knew it was joke,” Blunt said of the child, “but her parent called the superintendent to complain.” CNN was unable to reach the student’s parent for comment.
Blunt said the principal was informed of the matter and last week removed the student from Roland’s classroom. Blunt also believed the incident has been blown out of proportion.
"This is a teacher who is kind of a jokester at the school,” Blunt said, “and his way of relating to his 6th and 7th grade students is to joke with them in their own context, and kids this day call themselves all sorts of things, including loser. That’s been his methodology for some time but it’s not appropriate in the school district.”
“He just jokes around, all of the students have come forward to talk about him in a favorable way to say he’s just being funny. He was just kidding.” She added that Roland has reportedly been receiving death threats.
Buncombe County Schools District issued the following statement in response to the controversy:
"Regardless of the intention or context, demeaning or derogatory comments made to students by school staff is unacceptable and will not be rationalized or justified by Buncombe County Schools. Following a thorough and comprehensive investigation, Buncombe County Schools Superintendent Tony Baldwin has announced that Enka Middle School social studies teacher Rex Roland will be suspended for two weeks without pay, with a required component for training in professional and ethical classroom behavior before he returns to the school. Mr. Roland has been an employee with the school system since August of 1997."
A letter from Roland and Enka Middle School Principal Dr. Pam Fourtenbary was sent today to students, parents, faculty and staff.
“The past few days have been stressful for all of us at Enka Middle School, but it is time to
heal, unite and become an even stronger school community than before. Thank you for your support and contribution to this process,” the letter said.
“To help in the healing, Mr. Roland would like to extend a full apology to any and all students
or staff he may have offended due to his unprofessional behavior. He regrets the negative
impact that his behavior has had on our school’s integrity and reputation, and would like you
to know that he will be attending training to improve his professional and ethical classroom
behavior. Mr. Roland looks forward to returning to his students at the end of that training
and a 10-day suspension.
It is very important for everyone to know that Enka Middle School is a safe place for
students and staff alike, and that Buncombe County Schools does not tolerate demeaning
or disparaging behavior of any kind, by anyone, toward anyone. If at any time a student,
parent or staff member has a concern over this or any other issue, it is important that you
feel comfortable bringing that concern to my attention. Please be assured that your
concerns will be addressed properly and in a timely manner.”
For more crime coverage go to cnn.com/crime.
Anderson Cooper goes beyond the headlines to tell stories from many points of view, so you can make up your own mind about the news. Tune in weeknights at 8 and 10 ET on CNN.
Questions or comments? Send an email
Want to know more? Go behind the scenes with