In the nine-second video, students can be heard gasping, shocked at what the substitute teacher at South Mecklenburg High School said Monday morning to a Spanish-speaking student.
“I was like, ‘It's not right. This is racism,’" said a female student who recorded the video and sent it to WSOCTV. The student, who did not want to be identified, said the student was speaking Spanish with another classmate when the substitute teacher told him to stop.
“Go back where you speak Spanish if you don't want to speak English,” the substitute teacher said.
When the student he was speaking to asked if the substitute was being racist, the substitute replied, “I'm racist, right."
Before school dismissed for the day, videos of the exchange had spread through social media to students outside the class.
"For a teacher to just put a student down like that in school where you're supposed to feel safe, it's just not correct," senior Edwin Alarcon told WSOCTV.
In a statement to WSOCTV, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools officials said the district was looking into the incident and that "CMS is committed to providing a safe, social and emotional environment for learning at all schools for all students and staff."
South Mecklenburg Principal Maureen Furr notified parents of what she called a substitute's verbal exchange with a student. She assured parents that the substitute teacher will no longer be working at the school.
One mother, who didn't want to be identified, said it makes her worry about sending her child back to the school.
"It's intimidating the students," she said.
WSOCTV is not identifying the substitute teacher, because he is not accused of breaking any laws. Students said he had been a sub for years and had never said anything like that before.
South Mecklenburg High School's principal sent this message home to parents Monday afternoon:
Good afternoon. This is Dr. Furr from South Mecklenburg High School with an important message. An incident occurred this morning in one of our classes, in which a substitute teacher engaged in a verbal exchange with a student over language. The incident was reported to me, CMS has been made aware, and the entire situation is under review.
At South we seek to create a safe and respectful environment for students and staff, and promote respectful interaction for all. We take accusations of bias seriously, and this individual will no longer be working at our school. You may see some news coverage about this situation shared through social media by students today. I wanted to be sure you knew that it is being handled.