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Spring ISD superintendent speaks out after principal's comments about special needs student

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SPRING, Texas – On the heels of controversial remarks made by Spring Independent School District's Ponderosa Elementary School Principal Shanna Swearingen, the district's superintendent is speaking out. 

Swearingen is accused of making the comments about a boy who has special needs, tends to run from class and is African American. She was overheard saying, “We won’t chase him. We will call the police and tell them he has a gun so they can come faster" to three staff members.

She has taken "full accountability for the insensitive comment," also calling it an "insensitive remark," according to an email sent to parents. 

Superintendent Rodney E. Watson released the following statement: 

As an African-American male and father, I understand the concern we are seeing around the careless and inappropriate comment that was made by our Ponderosa Elementary principal.

I was extremely concerned too when I heard about the comment and want to reassure everyone that strong disciplinary action has been taken. As a school district, it is our policy not to discuss personnel issues so it appears some people have assumed that no action was taken on this issue. That is not the case. I would never let a comment of this nature go unaddressed. It is being addressed first and foremost with Principal Swearingen and also with the district as a whole.  

Although we routinely do an annual, online discrimination awareness training here in the district for all staff, this year I’m calling for in-person cultural sensitivity training.

As a diverse school district serving a student population that is 46 percent Hispanic and 40 percent African-American, my top priority is ensuring the dignity, respect and safety for all our students.

I appreciate all of the input we have received on this issue, and I am continuing to monitor it closely.