Pam Aister had taught at Four Peaks Elementary School for 24 years, but she was removed from her classroom after the Fountain Hills Unified School District voted to fire her, ABC reported. The reason for her dismissal: Aister stood up to some bullies who were harassing a fourth-grade student by calling him the n-word and using other racist and derogatory slurs toward him. They called him “coon,” “monkey,” and “crackhead.”
Aister uncovered the bullying when she walked by a group of students surrounding nine-year-old Malachi Gillis, and chose to intervene. She said she told the group “if you pick on him, you’re picking on me.”
The students told their parents, and the parents have accused Aister of telling the kids to “shut up” and that one of the bullies had an “ugly face.”
Although she denied saying anything of the sort, the district chose to remove her as they could not prove her claims of racist bullying. She was subsequently fired.
Aister told reporters that she cannot retire because she is supporting both herself and her elderly mother. A petition on Change.org by Aister’s supporters has garnered over 9,300 signatures calling for her reinstatement.
The parents who called for her dismissal claim that Aister handled the incident in a threatening way, and felt she should be removed because she refused to take responsibility for her actions.
Her supporters feel her dismissal has been an injustice—that the message it sends to students is one where parents can band together to sway the school board into bullying a veteran teacher.