N word discussion results in RISD placing Utley teacher on administrative leave

Rebekah Cook (center) and family from her RISD staff directory page

Rebekah Cook (center) and family from her
RISD staff directory page

ROCKWALL – A discussion about an N word article last week has resulted in Rockwall ISD placing Utley Middle School social studies teacher Rebekah Cook on administrative leave.

She’s also the school’s AVID – or college readiness – coordinator and helps with its yearbook, according to her school district profile.

According to RISD, the reason is she did not seek approval to use a 1997 news article which included the N word.

“While the teacher has expressed that the intent of the lesson was to provoke discussion, the teacher did not seek prior approval from the campus or district,” an RISD statement read.

“This lesson activity and article are not part of Rockwall ISD’s curriculum and racially derogatory terms have no place in our classrooms or district.”

The incident took place last Wednesday in Cook’s 7th grade social studies class while she was teaching her students about the Civil Rights movement. As part of her lesson, she led a discussion about the social uses of the N-word, and passed out a Chicago Reader article from 1997 called “The N-Word and How To Use It.” The article, by Bennie M. Currie, begins with the N-word spelled out letter by letter.

The school district began investigating Cook right after her lesson, and announced the next day she was placed on administrative leave.

RISD did not say how long Cook is on leave or if she will continue getting paid. Cook earns $50,066 a year, district records show.

RISD has not yet responded to an email from The Rockwall News asking how the district learned about the incident or if complaints were made.

Cook did not return an email, either, for comment from The Rockwall News.





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