South Middle School teacher suspended amid allegations of racist comments

A teacher at Lawrence’s South Middle School has been suspended with pay after allegedly making racist comments during class, the Lawrence school district announced Wednesday afternoon.

According to a district-issued news release, the school received a complaint against the teacher on Monday from a family member of a South student, alleging that racist comments — the news release did not specify more than this — had been made in class.

South administrators followed up with an investigation of the incident, including an interview with the teacher, before sharing information gathered in the investigation with the district’s human resources office on Tuesday. The HR office then began its own inquiry.

“Sharing deep concern about these allegations, Superintendent Kyle Hayden suspended the employee, with pay, in accordance with Lawrence Board of Education Policy and to ensure a fair and complete investigation,” the news release said.

Details, such as the teacher’s name and the content of the alleged remarks, were not provided by the district. The district is prohibited from doing so for confidentiality reasons, the news release said.

South is the most racially diverse of the four middle schools in the Lawrence district. Nonwhite students count for roughly 42 percent of South’s total enrollment, according to numbers made available by the Kansas State Department of Education.