Friday, October 15, 2021
Teacher accused of “nappy-headed” slur
By Yussuf J. Simmonds
Published June 17, 2012

Brea Persley

According to 13-year-old Brea Persley (a Black student), one of her teachers, Kelly Dempsey (a White teacher), scolded her in front of the entire science class saying, “sit your nappy-headed self down.”  Then her mother, Shronda Williams, apparently complained to the school about the matter and her daughter was removed from the school.


In fact, Williams reportedly said that the principal of the school, Giselle Edman, told her she was “happy” the teacher made the comment and that “bad things need to happen to mean kids.”

Dempsey has since called Brea’s mother and apologized for the comment, but that has not lessened the indignity of the slur in the eyes of Williams especially since she feels that Edman has not disciplined Dempsey (enough) and has not taken the matter seriously.  Edman is also Black.

In the first place Williams believes that she only got a response from the school because the incident aired on the television news and furthermore, she said, “No child needs to come to school and feel the way my daughter felt that day.”

First it was reported that the principal informed Williams that Persley was expelled from school.  Then Edman told a reporter she wants Persley to return to school and that she (Persley) would be welcomed.

The Century Academy of Excellence is a charter school located in the city of Inglewood and it is also independent of the Inglewood Unified School District’s (IUSD) jurisdiction; as such, it has its own rules that are somewhat different from the IUSD about disciplinary matters and expulsion.  The school is answerable to the education accreditation board that is presently investigating the incident, and that is one of the places where Williams plans to take her daughter’s case.

In the meantime, Williams is trying to enroll Brea in another school and has been contemplating her (daughter’s) legal option with the NAACP.


Though the IUSD is in no way involved in the matter due to different jurisdiction, the Sentinel reached out to some of the IUSD members for their comments – from afar – as parents and resident of the city of Inglewood.

Dr. Johnny J. Young, president of the IUSD said, “A student at no time,  regardless of the ethnicity or the race.  As a father, and as a concerned citizen, I would be outraged if that type of thing happened to one of my children or one of my grand children.  And I think we should let it be known that that teacher should be disciplined for that type of behavior.”

Arnold Butler, member of the IUSD said: “I am not familiar with all of the details, but if what transpired did occur, it shows the level of insensitivity on the part of some of those instructors as it relates to the children of color.  Many times, the teachers do not have the proper training in sensitivity or appreciation of ethnic differences, and the learning modality … even from the standpoint of being able to relate to children of color … because of the lack of training of some of the teaching staff at the charter schools.”



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