Teacher resigns after telling students Martin Luther King Jr. committed suicide

2

A North Carolina substitute teacher resigned after she allegedly told several elementary school students that Martin Luther King Jr. wasn’t assassinated and had died by suicide, the school district said.

Elizabeth Temple, a substitute music teacher at Rand Road Elementary School in Garner, is accused of making the false claim about the famed civil rights leader’s death last Friday when students weren’t following her directions, parent Billy Byrd told the News & Observer.

Byrd said when his 10-year-old son, Nathan, corrected the teacher by saying King Jr. was assassinated, she responded by telling him and other minority students that they were prison-bound because they were dressed in athletic apparel. She also reportedly told the class they were not real Christians if they did not support Donald Trump.

“To wear athletic apparel while being BLACK is obviously a MARK for long term imprisonment these days by racist radicals portraying to be godly and upright conservative Christians,” the angry dad wrote in a widely shared Facebook post describing the incident.

Nathan said he felt compelled to stand up for himself.

“We felt discriminated,” Nathan said. “But at the same time, we can’t let her get to us, because what she’s saying was not true. We had to stand up for ourselves.”

Byrd said he’s proud that his son had the courage to tell the teacher that her comments about King Jr., made during Black History Month, were incorrect.

“He had those necessary tools that he was equipped with prior to that situation taking place. So for him to be able to stand up for truth and to correct that teacher when she made that blatant lie that Dr. King committed suicide … and say, ‘No, that is inaccurate information, that did not happen,’ that made me feel good as a father to know that he followed my instruction. For that, I am eternally proud and grateful,” Byrd told ABC 11.

After Nathan told his dad what happened, Byrd immediately went to the school principal, Rhonda Jones, to complain. Jones told Byrd that other students and teachers also complained about the teacher’s comments and that the school would be taking action.

Lisa Luten, communications director for the Wake County Public School System, told USA Today on Tuesday that the teacher resigned. Byrd said he hoped the school district would re-evaluate their hiring practices.

A Wake County school district spokesperson was not immediately available for comment.