Palmdale teacher's racist rant on Zoom prompts family to file claim against school district

PALMDALE, Calif. (KABC) -- The family of a sixth-grade student has filed a claim against the Palmdale School District after a teacher's racist remarks were heard over Zoom, an incident that has left the family in shock.

The former science teacher at Desert Willow Fine Arts, Science and Technology Magnet Academy in Palmdale mouthed off about one of her students and their parent following office hours on Zoom in January. The Zoom meeting wasn't properly ended, so the mother and her son heard the entire rant and recorded it.

"I mean these parents, that's what kind of pieces of (expletive) they are. Black. He's Black. They're a Black family," the former teacher is heard saying. "Your son has learned to lie to everybody and make excuses. Cause you taught him to make excuses that nothing is his fault. This is what Black people do. This is what Black people do."

The teacher responsible for the Zoom rant resigned back in January.

The mother, Katura Stokes, and her son have filed a claim against the Palmdale School District.

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"My client is a single mother who has two children and like many people, struggled during the pandemic. The school provided her with a Wi-Fi hot spot that her son was supposed to use to be able to access the Zoom platform, but he was having trouble getting on to that platform and then as a result, wasn't able to complete assignment and was falling behind in school," said Neil Gahlawat, an attorney representing Stokes.

According to Stokes' attorney, her sixth-grade son didn't struggle in school before the pandemic. Once she saw her son's issues with distance learning, Stokes reached out to his science teacher for help, but was then shocked by what the teacher said behind their backs.

"These parents are such (expletive) liars. Absolute (expletive) liars," the former teacher is also heard saying about Stokes on the Zoom.

"As a sixth-grader, growing up, looking up to his teachers, to hear his teachers say these things about him and his mom behind their back, the way she was saying them and for it to be directed at them because of the color of their skin, it was just so disappointing and hurtful," said Gahlawat. "There's no place for educators who say racist things in this district or in any district."

The Palmdale School District said they will not tolerate this behavior.

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