While talking in class might get most students sent to the principal’s office, one Ohio teen reported that his teacher proposed a different kind of punishment. Nathan Agee-Bell said that his Mason Middle School teacher threatened him with a lynching if he didn’t get back to work. Nathan’s mom, Tanisha Agee-Bell, is outraged.
The incident, said to have taken place in December, occurred after Renee Thole got frustrated when the 13-year-old wouldn’t quiet down and get back to work. Nathan didn’t tell his mother about the verbal that ensued altercation because he didn’t want to get into further trouble for calling Thole out on her racist statements. Mom Tanisha thought at first that her son “must have misunderstood” what his teacher said only to discover that the situation was far worse. Thole admitted to her actions and didn’t see a problem with them.
“(She said) if he didn’t get back on task, his friends were going to form an angry mob and lynch him,” she told WXIX News. “I was just taken aback, because I said, ‘What you said is actually worse than what he said you said.'”
Tanisha contacted school officials and had her son removed from Thole’s social studies class. But as a member of the school’s diversity council for over 10 years, she knows the school’s history with race relations and doesn’t believe that it is committed to making improvements. Tanisha was discouraged from speaking out at Tuesday’s school board meeting by officials who wanted a separate meeting with her afterwards. That meeting lasted all of five minutes.
“I believe Mason is a community that is OK the way it is,” Tanisha said.
Mason Schools spokeswoman Tracy Carson admitted that Thole made a mistake. While she would not comment on what disciplinary action might be taken against her, she did commend Nathan for how he handled the situation.
“As educators, sometimes we mess up– and clearly that happened here,” Carson said in a statement. “It was amazing that (Nathan) was brave enough to confront the teacher.”
— chris underwood (@ChrisUnderwoodc) September 26, 2017
But Tanisha said that leaving it up to children to improve race relations at Mason Middle School is unacceptable. She has worked tirelessly to bring about change on behalf of all children in her community and is disappointed at the lack of progress. But she isn’t giving up.
“We have to stand up when things are wrong,” Tanisha Agee-Bell said to Cincinnati.com. “We have to say it’s wrong. And if we don’t, then we’re doing not only ourselves a disservice, we’re doing our entire generation a disservice.”