Last month, William Bennett, a science teacher at Marion C. Moore High School in Louisville, KY, was fired three months after he was “involved in a physical altercation with one of his black students.”
Another student captured video of the incident, which has gone viral, and shows Bennett pinning 16-year-old Jamir Strane to the ground and pulling Strane’s hair while students in the background repeatedly shout “take it off.” the f–k”.
Immediately after the altercation, Strane spoke to local news outlets providing his account: “As I’m in the process of transitioning into my fourth period class, which is chemistry, going to his class, he tells me that I can’t get into his class with the bandana I’m wearing, but it’s a face mask. It’s the first time, but I’ve worn it in class before, that’s why I don’t understand not what he says… He said, ‘You’re going to end up dead in the street.’
Bennett’s racist comment provoked Strane who had been involved in a drive-by shooting the previous summer in July 2020, which prompted Strane to punch Bennett. Strane was suspended for fighting with a teacher and said, “I get it, I was wrong, but you have no right to lay hands on me.” Indeed, a Child Protective Services report said Bennett’s ‘comments were ‘trigger’ for Strane, ‘who suffers ongoing emotional trauma as a former shooting victim’ “. knee near his gunshot wounds.
According to Bennett’s termination letter from Jefferson County Public Schools, obtained by Insider, even after another adult walked into the fracas during an attempt to de-escalate, Bennett “continued to engage in the altercation” [and] allegedly followed Strane down the hall, had a verbal exchange with the student and kicked him… An unnamed student quoted in the report said he heard Bennett tell Strane he was “just a another black boy who got shot.”
Marion C. Middle School principal Traci Hunt spoke to district investigators and told them that “Bennett had previously refused to take the school’s mandatory implicit bias training and had been implicated in an earlier incident with a school counselor, which caused her to worry about her performance as a teacher before the altercation.In trying to clear her name of the racist allegations during the investigation, Bennett “has featured photos of his non-white family members.”
Worst of all, this isn’t even the first time Bennett has been disciplined by a school district for getting involved in “another physical altercation with another student.” After being arrested in February 2001, he was fired from Elizabethtown Independent. Although Bennett maintains that the charges were dismissed and that he had been invited to return to Elizabethtown to teach, there are no corresponding personal documents that support his version of events.
Jamir’s mother, Erica Strane, is suing Jefferson and Bennett County Public Schools, seeking unspecified damages, arguing that “Jamir suffered” physical, mental, emotional stress, strain and humiliation “as a result of the incident,” according to Strane’s attorney, Aubrey Williams.