Minnesota Teacher Suspended After Using Racial Slur

A teacher from Minnesota has been placed on administrative leave after a video was posted to social media of her using a racial slur at school. The 23-second video was posted to Snapchat and then uploaded on Facebook on Wednesday, May 8. The video shows Wendy Brilowski speaking with several people in a hallway at Highland Park Middle School in Saint Paul, Minnesota, while another person records the conversation.

Brilowski can be heard saying, “They’re Black. And they’re the only [racial slur] doing any work.” Parents identified Brilowski, who teaches Spanish at the middle school, the Twin Cities Pioneer Press reported.

On Thursday, May 9, district Superintendent Joe Gothard issued a statement on the Saint Paul Public Schools website stating that Brilowski has been placed on administrative leave. “The words and actions recorded in this video have caused harm to our Black students, their families and our entire school community. These actions go against Saint Paul Public Schools core values and its commitment to serving youth and families,” wrote Gothard. “We will not be silent in the face of racist language in our schools — and we cannot perpetuate it. We will not make excuses for actions that hurt the students that we as educators have dedicated our lives to serve.”

St. Paul’s population is 57.4 percent white, according to census data. The census data also showed that the city is 15.9 percent Black or African American, 18 percent Asian, and 9.7 percent Hispanic or Latinx.

A similar incident occurred in Palmdale, California after a photo of four teachers posing and smiling with what appears to be a noose went viral. The photo was reportedly taken in a classroom at Summerwind Elementary School with Principal Linda Brandts, and was shared on social media, the Los Angeles Times previously reported.

Palmdale School District Superintendent Raul Maldonado posted a statement on the district’s Facebook page stating that the teachers and the principal were placed on administrative leave.

“We will not allow the hurtful actions of a few hold back our district’s pledge to do right by our community,” Maldonado wrote. In April, a school administrator from Berry Miller Junior High School in Pearland, Texas was placed on administrative leave after he told a Black seventh grader to color in his haircut with a permanent marker because it did not adhere with the school’s dress code.

The Pearland Independent School District released a statement on its website following the incident.

“A campus administrator mishandled disciplinary action by giving the student options including notifying his mother, disciplinary consequences or filling in the shape of the hair carving with a marker,” the statement read. “This latter practice is not condoned by the district and does not align with appropriate measures for dress code violations.”

About the Author

Maria Perez is a breaking news writer for The North Star. She has an M.A. in Urban Reporting from the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism. She has been published in the various venues, including Newsweek, Juvenile Justice Information Exchange, City Limits, and local newspapers like The Wave and The Home Reporter.