Providence Anti-Critical Race Whistleblower Teacher Ramona Bessinger Taunted In Troubling Schoolyard Incident
After an administrative “pre-disciplinary hearing” that the Wall Street Journal has called a “pretext” to punish Bessinger for publicly criticizing the district’s Critical Race curriculum, Bessinger found herself isolated and surrounded in a circle by 10-12 male students who were taunting her.
Ramona Bessinger is the Providence, Rhode Island, middle school teacher who gained national attention by blowing the whistle on a racialized and radical Critical Race curriculum introduced a year ago. The hyper-focus on racial oppressor-oppressed narratives not only was poor pedagogy, it led to Bessinger being targeted by students and teachers because she is white, and by administrators because she went public with the information.
Bessinger detailed the curriculum and the retaliation in two posts at Legal Insurrection:
- I’m A Middle School Teacher And See How Critical Race Curriculum Is Creating Racial Hostility In School (July 13, 2021)
- Ramona Bessinger: I’m A Middle School Teacher Facing Retaliation After Blowing The Whistle On Critical Race Curriculum (October 3, 2021)
On October 5, 2021, just two days after Bessinger went public about the retaliation, the district served notice on her of possible disciplinary charges, asserted that she let students out of class on September 29, 2021, during an “instructional lockdown” (a lower-level lockdown than a “shelter in place” lockdown). The “pre-discipinary hearing” was scheduled for the morning of October 13.
As we documented, after that hearing notice was served, the Harassment Of Providence Anti-Critical Race Whistleblower Teacher Ramona Bessinger Intensified. On the afternoon of October 12, when Bessinger was not in school, someone put threatening and taunting messages on her classroom whiteboard that then were tweeted at her by unknown accounts:
The “pre-disciplinary hearing” was held on October 13, 2021. It was an inquisition in which Bessinger was berated by a senior Providence School Department “Human Resources” Officer. Bessinger denied letting the students out, though it’s possible a small number of students left the multi-door classroom without permission and in confusion after the school administration implemented a policy allowing students to leave classrooms without permission and during a lockdown when lunch and other bells rang.
The Wall Street Journal Editorial Board, in a powerful Editorial, called the lockdown claim a “pretext” to punish Bessinger:
The Providence Public School District hauled in Ramona Bessinger on Wednesday for a “pre-disciplinary administrative” hearing because she allegedly let students leave her classroom during a school lockdown related to a fight between a student and staff member. Ms. Bessinger, who has taught for 22 years, denies the charge.
Her real offense is chronicling the alarming effects of critical race theory on students and teachers….
The harassment by fellow teachers and administrative officials increased this year after some media outlets highlighted her story. Last month a union representative at a faculty meeting said teachers were circulating a petition against her. On Oct. 3 she filed an internal complaint about retaliation and a hostile working environment.
The district subsequently issued her a notice alleging that she violated protocols during a school lockdown and calling for a hearing. “These allegations create a legitimate concern that you may not and/or will not be able to perform your duties within the scope of your accountable employment with PPSD,” the letter says. “Please note appropriate disciplinary action” including termination may result.
The district would be unlikely to win a disciplinary case against Ms. Bessinger for opining online about critical race theory because the Supreme Court in Pickering v. Board of Education (1968) held that the First Amendment protects teachers from retaliation for speaking on matters of public concern. Hence, the district needed a pretext to target her.
After the October 13 hearing, Bessinger encountered a situation at school that she found troubling and unsettling.
She was in the schoolyard where students congregate during recess. All of the sudden she found herself isolated and surrounded in a circle by 10-12 male students who were taunting her with claims, some in question form, about whether she was racist: Are you a racist? and so on. She told them she was not racist and didn’t know why they would say such things.
She had to tell one of the students to back away from her and not to get so close. None of the students touched her during the incident.
One of the students held up his phone and referenced the tweets about what was written on her classroom whiteboard. Bessinger found the incident troubling at the time, and even more so in hindsight. Bessinger took two days off after the hearing and incident.
Bessinger has sent multiple emails and made multiple complaints to the district about this dangerous breakdown of order at the middle school created by the administration. Staff have screamed at her in front of others, including about her “white privilege,” and students have been turned against her apparently reacting to the staff and administrative hostility. According to Bessinger, her complaints and pleas for the district to provide protection for her have gone unanswered.
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