Charles County Middle School Investigating Staff Member Using Racial Slur Towards Student

November 30, 2022

A Statement from Brenda Tillotson, Principal at General Smallwood Middle School, dated November 29, 2022, can be seen below.

Dear Parents and Guardians:

I am very saddened to have to share with you information about an incident that happened Monday afternoon at General Smallwood Middle School. An instructional assistant in one of our math classes was reportedly overheard using inappropriate language in front of students.

The incident was reported to administrators by a Smallwood staff member yesterday afternoon. Last night, a parent also reported the incident to school administrators. We are investigating the incident and I am deeply disappointed to learn that a staff member allegedly demonstrated this behavior and poor judgement.

The information we have so far indicates several students overheard a staff member use inappropriate language. A student was reportedly overheard using a racial slur toward the staff member, and the staff member allegedly repeated the racial slur back to the student.

This is never an appropriate response from our staff nor is it acceptable behavior, under any circumstances.

As part of the investigation process, the Charles County Public Schools (CCPS) Office of Human Resources has placed the staff member on administrative leave. Dr. Marvin Jones, chief of schools for CCPS, led a staff meeting at the school this morning to provide what information we can share and to help staff process the incident. Administrators and counselors met with students in the math class today to talk with them about the incident.

Regardless of the circumstances, articulating derogatory or insensitive language is not condoned or supported. General Smallwood Middle School is a richly diverse and inclusive school community of which I have been a member for over 10 years. This incident is not the environment that I have seen in the past. Our staff supports our students and does so professionally; this incident does not define our dedicated employees. It is always the expectation of all CCPS staff and teachers to model professionalism, and support the endeavors and success of all students, no matter their background or ethnicity.

All students have a right to come to school each day, feeling welcomed and supported. It is also an expectation that all adults working in our building embrace and support an all-inclusive learning environment and atmosphere.

This is the second incident in recent weeks in which our school community has experienced allegations centered on racial concerns related to staff. Please know that I take any such incident reports seriously and investigate them quickly and as thoroughly as possible. Due to privacy reasons however, I am not able to share any additional details.

It is important that we speak with and hear from our parents. We will be conducting a Smallwood parent night this Thursday, Dec. 1, from 6 to 7:30 p.m. Along with myself, we will have support from staff of the CCPS administrative offices and the Smallwood community.

At this meeting, we will update you with any information we can share about the investigation and also give our parents an opportunity to share their views and ask questions.

At Smallwood, it is important for every student to feel accepted and know that our teachers and staff support them both academically and personally. My team and I are here to support our community in any way we can. Hopefully this meeting will be the first step in this process. Please email me direct at [email protected] or call me at the school if you have questions I can answer or concerns you would like to share.

Sincerely, Brenda Tillotson, Principal.