CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — A school principal in North Carolina apologized after making a reference to “colored folks” during a staff meeting about cultural training.
The apology by Charlotte’s Ardrey Kell High School Principal David Switzer was made in a follow-up staff meeting to the cultural training in August, according to an audio tape recently obtained by The Charlotte Observer.
“I thought I said persons of color,” Switzer said in the recording before apologizing. Switzer then added he doesn’t “say the N-word either.”
The Observer reported one teacher was heard on the 23-minute recording saying that Switzer’s comment reminded them of the phrase “coloreds only” in the Jim Crow South.
In the recording, Switzer said he doesn’t remember what he said and asked if people in the room could tell him what they heard.
“I think what you said was, ’Now let’s be honest, this is not about being kind to colored folk,” one woman said during the recorded meeting. “I think it was like a sarcastic comment that you were making from the perspective of someone who might think that all that we’re doing is focusing on how everyone has to be nice to black people.”
Switzer told the Observer that he made the comment while noting the importance of “cultural proficiency” training that is available for staff at the school. He said this initiative involved a book he bought for all his employees last summer that tells a story of an African-American girl who sees a police shooting while attending a predominantly white school.
Switzer’s comments come amid a string of racial incidents at Ardrey Kell High School. Last year, one white athlete was disciplined after sending a photo of a monkey to her black teammate on Snapchat, and another white basketball player was barred from playing in a game after he used racial slurs against students from a predominantly black high school on social media.
This follows another incident in 2017 where students chanted “black boy, you better watch your back” to a black middle school student visiting the high school, the Observer reported.
Switzer has served as the principal of the school since 2010.