Emily Walters, a diligent and passionate student, found herself in a very delicate situation after recording her teacher saying something terribly wrong during a class discussion. She was aware that school rules prohibit the use of cell phones inside the classroom, especially during a discussion.
But Emily just couldn’t bear listening to her teacher’s unacceptable remarks any longer and decided to do something about it. So she picked up her phone and filmed him, not knowing how much impact it would make on her life…
A principled student
Emily Walters is a 14-year-old freshman student at a high school in Missouri.
Growing up, her parents have always given her a clear sense of what’s right and wrong, and they have always told her to respect each person regardless of their social status and individual preferences.
So when Emily witnessed her Math teacher say something totally unacceptable in class, she disobeyed school rules just to get evidence of it.
Her favorite teacher
It was a normal day in school and Emily was listening intently to her Math teacher, Mr. Thompson, as it was her favorite subject and he was her favorite teacher.
She had always looked up to him because Emily thought that he was the type of person who always knew what he was saying. He always appeared intelligent and composed and Emily admired that about him.
But all that admiration was replaced with disgust when he said something in class that made everyone frown…
Out of nowhere, Mr. Thompson brought up an unexpected topic for discussion.
Emily and her classmates were all shocked but they didn’t want to intervene while the teacher was saying something.
So they all listened and waited to speak their minds. But not one of them expected what he would say next…
Garnering negative reactions
The entire class frowned and fell silent as Mr. Thompson was speaking. It was evident that none of them were happy about where the discussion was going.
One student just couldn’t hold it anymore. So he cut him off and said, “Don’t say it right now, as a teacher, if you want to keep your job.”
But the student’s words meant nothing to Mr. Thompson. He was too proud to admit his mistake so he simply went on with the discussion.
Making a choice
Emily was conflicted for a moment because she couldn’t believe what she was hearing from her favorite teacher.
Emily knows that he should be held accountable for his words, but she doesn’t want to put him in a tight spot either.
It was a tough decision to make, but fueled by a strong sense of justice, Emily eventually decided to record the incident on her phone to expose Mr. Thompson’s unbecoming behavior.
Not being able to read the room, the bold Math teacher repeated his remarks several times more, earning raised eyebrows each time.
Another student even said, “Please stop, this isn’t part of our lecture and completely unnecessary.”
But Mr. Thompson dismissed it once more and said, “Why can’t I say it? I can say the word.”
The proud teacher did not welcome any of his students’ comments because he thought of himself as the only authority in the room and therefore, they should listen to him.
Little did he know, Emily captured it all on camera.
And soon, not only will his students be the only people to hear those words from him, but the entire world…
Against the rules
While she was recording her teacher, Emily suddenly remembered that school rules forbid the use of cell phones and other electronic devices during class hours, especially inside the classroom.
She could get in trouble simply by taking out her phone!
Emily was about to turn off the video when Mr. Thompson made another remark that surprised her even more. This made her more determined than ever to expose the shameful teacher.
Caught on cam
After minutes of rambling and a lot of raised eyebrows from his students, Mr. Thompson looked around and finally noticed that Emily was holding up her phone camera in his direction.
He felt his heart race realizing that Emily was able to record everything he just said.
“Are you recording me? Stop that and put your phone away!”
It’s not that simple
Emily was not about to let this teacher scare and rattle her. She refused to stop recording even when he demanded and asked her to report to his office after the class.
When the teacher realized that Emily wasn’t going to stop filming, he dropped the discussion and went back to their lesson.
But after everything he just said, Emily couldn’t let him get away with it. She was determined to expose him…
Trusting her best friend
Emily knew that reporting her teacher using the video she took could backfire on her. But that was a thought for later. She had to act quickly now because her teacher might ask her to delete the video.
And she had to be one step ahead of him. So Emily did the only logical thing she could think of at the moment – she sent a copy of the video to her best friend, Lindsey.
But in her hurry, she forgot one important thing…
Emily guessed correctly. Right after the bell rang, Mr. Thompson asked to see her in his office.
He wasted no time in asking Emily to delete the video telling her that if she didn’t, he would be forced to send her to the headmaster’s office for bringing out her phone during class hours, and the minimum penalty she would get was a three-day suspension.
On the other hand, if she obeyed him, he would let it pass and they would pretend like they never had this meeting.
Before she could even respond, Emily’s phone started vibrating uncontrollably.
Luckily for her, she always keeps her phone on silent mode so her teacher couldn’t hear any of it. But she still had no idea why she was getting so many notifications and she couldn’t check her phone at the moment. What could be happening?
Then it hit her. If what she’s thinking is right, she may be in big trouble…
Standing her ground
After some time thinking, Emily faced her teacher and said, “Sorry but I can’t delete the video.”
Then she stood up and left the room rendering her teacher speechless. Emily knew she would be called to the headmaster’s office soon because she refused to delete the video, but right now, she was more worried about all the messages she was getting and she couldn’t wait to find out.
What she didn’t know was how bad the situation already was…
As soon as she was out of her Math teacher’s office, she took out her phone once more and began reading through her notifications. Emily couldn’t believe what she was seeing.
The video she took of her teacher has been shared online and has now gone viral within their community with hundreds of shares and comments!
But how did this happen? She didn’t share the video with anyone – except… Lindsey!
Realizing her mistake
Apparently, Lindsey was not pleased by the teacher’s remarks and thought it fit to share the video online after Emily sent it to her without context.
She was in such a hurry to send the video that she forgot how much it could affect Lindsey!
But there’s no way to undo that now. Even Emily herself knew there was no escaping the consequences of taking that video now…
Lindsey thinks that even if Emily broke school rules by taking the video, the circumstances were unique and Emily did the right thing.
And apparently, most of the people who shared the video online seem to think the same way. In fact, they think Emily should be praised for being bold enough to disobey school rules and stand up to her teacher.
But what did she really capture in the video? What was so bad about her teacher’s remarks?
Waking up to big news
When she reached home, Emily’s phone still wouldn’t stop pinging with notification alerts.
She was just desperate to escape the commotion so she slept away the rest of the day. She woke up the next day to her mom loudly knocking on her door.
Then she broke the news to Emily, sounding more concerned than agitated, “What did you do Emily? The headmaster just called to inform me of your one-week suspension.”
Emily saw it coming but she still couldn’t believe that the school took her teacher’s side, especially since the video has now gone viral and probably half of the school – if not all of it – had already seen it.
She told her mom all about what happened and showed her the video.
Emily’s mom was furious as she also believed that her daughter did nothing wrong. And she was determined to fight back…
Taking legal advice
Despite Emily’s objection, her mom quickly called their family lawyer and brought up the case. Fortunately, she also specializes in civil rights cases so the situation fits perfectly!
Her mom explained the incident, presented the video evidence, and expressed her desire to file a lawsuit against Emily’s teacher and the school district.
If Emily was determined to make her teacher pay, her mom was set on making the school regret suspending Emily as well.
Ready or not?
The lawyer reviewed the evidence and confirmed that Emily had a strong case, especially since she captured it all on video.
She explained the legal process and the potential outcomes, making sure Emily and her mom were prepared for the journey ahead. Emily’s mom agreed and said she was determined to pursue the case no matter what.
Everything was ready and good to go. There was just one problem – Emily.
Having second thoughts
The problem was, while her mom agreed to pursue the case, Emily was having second thoughts.
She took the video not knowing it would go this far. Emily never would have wanted to file a case against her favorite teacher, much less her school!
Now she has to think of a way to stop her mom from filing the case on her behalf before the situation escalates further. But was it the right thing to do?
Emily tried talking her mom out of filing the lawsuit, but it was too late. The case had already been filed as soon as her mom gave their lawyer a “go” signal.
The video had also been circulating online for quite a few days and irreversible damage had already been done.
Each day, more and more people are coming out to condemn the teacher for his remarks and the school for their inappropriate actions towards the incident. What was in the video and why was it offending a lot of people?
The video contents
Emily watched the video on her phone again.
No matter how hard she tries to deny it from herself, she knows deep down that her Math teacher deserves all the hate he was getting, and maybe even the incoming lawsuit, for the things he said.
A lot of her classmates tried to call him out during the discussion but he remained adamant and showed no remorse while calling black people, “n*gg*s.”
He deserves it
Some of her classmates were black but her teacher did not even consider them while he was blurting out the “n-word” left and right, over and over. And it wasn’t even relevant to their discussion!
Moreover, he refused to stop saying the derogatory word even when everybody in the class was already uncomfortable.
To top it all off, he tried to have Emily delete the video and went as far as threatening her with a suspension just to keep himself from getting exposed! All of this clearly shows that he was not sorry for what he did, and he should be!
Lindsey isn’t sorry
Lindsey apologized to Emily for uploading the video online without asking for her permission first, as the owner.
But that was the only thing she was sorry for – not that Emily’s teacher was getting bashed heavily for it and that the school’s name was getting dragged along with him.
After all, he did disrespect the black community and called them names, and the school did nothing to rectify the situation.
Emily accepted Lindsey’s apology and conceded that it was actually her fault it got this far.
She was in such a hurry to put away her phone that she completely forgot the fact that Lindsey was black before she sent her the video. Emily also failed to warn Lindsey not to share the video with anyone yet, until she figured out what to do with it.
Lindsey admitted that she felt extremely offended by the racial slurs she heard Mr. Thompson say and thought it fit to share it online. There was no way she could have predicted it would go viral…
Making up her mind
Emily spent the entire day thinking about how much her life had changed in just a span of days since she took that video.
She had always looked at people without color and respected every person because this is how she was raised. And everything her teacher said goes against what she believed in.
Emily was sad that she had to go through a legal battle with her favorite teacher and the school, but she realized that if she wants this incident to serve as a lesson, supporting the lawsuit was the best way to go.
The legal battle begins
The lawsuit was officially filed, accusing Mr. Thompson of discrimination, harassment, and creating a hostile learning environment.
The school district was also named as a defendant for failing to address the issue appropriately. Following the subpoena, both Mr. Thompson and the school reached out to Emily and her family separately to try and get them to withdraw the charges filed.
But Emily had already made up her mind… unless they agree to her terms.
In no time, news of the lawsuit spread throughout the community.
This sparked discussions about the importance of creating safe and inclusive learning environments for all students.
As the case gained attention, supporters rallied around Emily, praising her bravery for speaking out against the inappropriate behavior she witnessed and condemning the school for siding with the teacher.
The school launched an internal investigation into the incident, aiming to address the matter, but they wouldn’t admit to their culpability.
School officials said they believe Emily was disciplined appropriately according to the student handbook as it was clearly stated there that inappropriate use of electronic devices during class will yield adverse consequences to the student responsible.
But given the circumstances, could Emily really be considered guilty of this?
Adding fuel to the fire
Because of the widespread social media reception, the school principal, Mr. Clayton, was pressured into releasing a statement regarding the matter.
In a personal Facebook post, he denounced Mr. Thompson’s actions and confirmed that he has been indefinitely suspended following the video leak.
However, this news made Emily and her supporters more furious than happy…
The school principal’s statement inevitably made him a new target for online hate.
He was condemned for only suspending the teacher when many believe he should have been terminated immediately.
At the same time, netizens cried foul over the unfair punishment given to Emily when all she did was expose a wrongdoing committed by a person in authority.
Sending the wrong message
In response to the school’s statement saying they were confident about the steps they had taken in response to the incident, which included Emily’s suspension, Emily’s attorney gave a statement.
Emily’s attorney argued that her suspension sends the wrong message to students.
She released a video with Emily beside her saying, “Apparently, if you take a video of a teacher doing something wrong, then you yourself could also get in trouble.”
Support poured in
In contrast to the negative attention the school and its officials were getting online, support was pouring in for Emily and her camp, but this time not only on social media.
Many groups were organizing protests in front of Emily’s school calling for the reversal of her suspension and the immediate termination of the teacher involved.
It had gotten so bad that the school was forced to cancel classes for two days due to the rallies being held on school grounds.
By this time, the video circulating online had gained national attention, spawning memes, parodies, and inspiring student activist groups to hold mass rallies calling the Department of Education to intervene.
To make things worse, several news channels caught wind of the escalating problem at Emily’s high school and reporters were beginning to flock to her house hoping to get an interview.
But it was all too much for Emily…
The school district, realizing the severity of the situation, decided to settle the lawsuit out of court.
They offered a public apology to Emily, agreed to reverse her suspension, and promised to implement comprehensive anti-discrimination and anti-harassment policies, as she asked.
In return, they asked for her to withdraw the lawsuit and release a statement that she had decided to settle and make amends with the school. This is in order to finally put an end to the massive hate the school was receiving.
Not good enough
Emily and her camp carefully considered the settlement offer and realized that it wasn’t good enough.
And that’s because the settlement offer did not specify any penalty for Mr. Thompson’s actions.
While they appreciated the apology and policy changes, they also wanted to ensure that Mr. Thompson faced appropriate consequences for his actions to prevent such incidents from happening again.
Prioritizing her mental health
All the media attention was starting to take a toll on Emily’s mental health. Before all this, she was just a quiet girl in school – the type people barely even noticed – and she was happy like that.
But now, groups of people flock to her front yard every day causing a frenzy. She couldn’t even go out of their house without being surrounded either by supporters or reporters. The situation was just driving her mad!
All she wanted was for things to go back to normal so that she can finish off the school year. And Emily knew that the only way to do that was to skip the negotiations and accept the settlement offer right away. So she picked up her phone and called the school principal…
Emily anxiously held the phone to her ear while waiting for the principal to answer on the other end.
While waiting for what seemed like forever, she was getting ready to say her piece. She readied all her explanations in case the principal asked why she suddenly changed her mind on the matter.
Lost in her own thoughts, she heard Mr. Clayton on the other end, “Hello, Emily?”
Upon hearing the principal’s voice, Emily felt as though an ice bucket had been dumped over her head.
She suddenly realized what she was about to do and couldn’t believe how she could think of accepting the settlement offer when she clearly knew it wasn’t fair and just.
Realizing the gravity of the mistake she was about to make, she was getting ready to drop the call when the principal said something that caught Emily off guard.
“Mr. Thompson had been terminated effective today.”
Emily was dumbfounded when she heard Mr. Clayton’s remarks. She couldn’t believe what she was hearing because Mr. Thompson’s termination wasn’t part of the original settlement offer given to her.
Needless to say, she was happy about this news. But at the same time, she was curious as to how this happened. They had been pushing for Mr. Thompson’s termination for the longest time and the school wouldn’t approve. And now here they are. Why?
Asking the right question
“Okay. But how did this happen?” This was the only thing on Emily’s mind so she asked away.
The principal, Mr. Clayton, gave Emily a lengthy explanation as to why the school board finally decided to terminate Mr. Thompson’s employment.
According to him, they couldn’t terminate him at first because there was no clear violation of his contract. But because Emily’s case has now gained national attention, the board has found reasonable grounds to end his employment.
News spread like wildfire
In no time, the media found out about Mr. Thompson’s termination. The news spread like wildfire within the school community and online.
The school has black employees as well as students. So naturally, many students and even faculty members expressed relief that appropriate action had been taken.
Several activist groups also came together and rejoiced at the news. Emily felt a huge sense of relief that the chaos brought into her life by this issue was coming to an end. More importantly, she was excited about one thing…
Following the reversal of her suspension, Emily could finally go back to school and she was more than excited!
The next morning, when Emily returned to school, she couldn’t believe what was waiting for her. Welcome back banners and congratulatory posters with her photo on them were everywhere!
She was greeted with support and admiration from the entire school, most especially her classmates, for her bravery and determination in seeking justice.
Emily would stop every five seconds to smile back and nod at people who greeted her while she walked toward her classroom.
She felt like an instant celebrity as students took out their phones to take pictures of her while she walked. Some were even friendly enough to ask her for a photo. Emily just couldn’t believe what was happening.
When she entered the classroom, her classmates clapped as they welcomed her back. Emily couldn’t hold back her tears anymore and they fell while she smiled. Her heart was full knowing that she did the right thing.
Catching up on school
The following days were pretty eventful for Emily as she tried to catch up on everything she missed during her suspension.
Fortunately for Emily, all her teachers were extremely supportive and they didn’t give her a hard time upon her return. If anything, they even helped her catch up by giving her special notes and lessons.
Each day, Emily had to spend an extra hour or two in school so she could have special sessions with her teachers. She was a bright student too. So her teachers were more than happy to help her.
Emily as a student advocate
Recognizing the impact she had made, Emily became an advocate for promoting inclusivity and respect within her school and the community.
She joined various student-led organizations and initiatives aimed at fostering a positive and accepting environment and she became a well-respected member of every group she joined.
As Emily overcame her fear of the crowd, she immediately had her hands full as she got invited to speak at numerous events and conferences – and she did, so long as it promoted her advocacies.
Left and right interviews
News outlets still weren’t done covering Emily’s story as she continued to touch many lives with her advocacies.
Each day, news channels – both local and national – would flock to her house and to her school for a chance to interview Emily so she can shed more light on the importance of mutual respect within educational institutions.
Despite her already busy schedule, Emily made sure to give each outlet a chance for a dialogue as she knew that a lot of good would come out of it. Knowing that she could inspire more people to do the right thing by agreeing to these interviews, she didn’t think twice about doing them.
It is an ongoing fight
During the interviews, Emily eloquently shared her experience while always being careful to point out that the issue never stopped at what happened to her.
“The fight against d*scrimination is an ongoing fight and we must never turn a blind eye if we witness such a crime being committed, especially in the classroom.”
She emphasized the need for continued efforts to combat prejudice, promote mutual respect between students and teachers, and create safe spaces for all.
Creating a movement
Inspired by Emily’s courage, other students began to speak up about their similar experiences, leading to further discussions and initiatives within the school.
Every week, a different student somewhere comes forward with a different story to tell. In Emily’s school alone, students and teachers alike are coming forward every day.
As the movement gained momentum, school administrators and staff all over the country joined forces with the students to actively engage in diversity and inclusion workshops creating a unified front against prejudice in the school setting.
Following the nationwide movement sparked by Emily’s story, the school made further efforts to ensure a safe and inclusive environment for all students and teachers.
They conducted thorough sensitivity training for all staff members, emphasizing the importance of fostering a respectful and unbiased classroom.
Additionally, the school established a clear and accessible reporting system for students to voice their concerns and implemented regular evaluations to monitor progress and address any potential issues promptly.
Others followed suit
As Emily’s school took further steps to address prejudice problems in the school setting, it sent ripples throughout neighboring school districts.
Recognizing the need for proactive measures, these districts swiftly implemented comprehensive diversity training for their educators and staff as well.
They also revised their policies to enforce a zero-tolerance approach towards d*scrimination, ensuring that every student would be treated fairly and respectfully regardless of their background or identity.
Emily’s lawsuit also sparked a nationwide conversation about the importance of accountability in education and the need for comprehensive anti-discrimination policies in schools across the country.
Most importantly, the conversations served as a wake-up call for policymakers and educators across the country to create and implement stricter anti-discrimination laws and mandatory diversity training for teachers.
This initiative renewed the commitment to fostering inclusive and respectful learning environments in schools nationwide.
More positive impact
Recognizing her impact on a larger scale, Emily was invited to speak at conferences and events focused on education, sharing her story, and advocating for change.
Emily’s story reverberated across the nation, capturing the attention of people from all walks of life. Her story served as a gateway for people to freely talk about the importance of ensuring that schools become safe spaces for all members of the community.
Now pretty well-known all over the country, Emily became a renowned speaker championing the importance of inclusivity, sparking real change everywhere across the country.
New laws drafted
Fortunately, as Emily’s advocacy work reached the ears of lawmakers, newly drafted policies regarding discrimination in schools were expedited for approval.
As the case continued to gain national attention, every day, lawmakers took notice of gaps in existing legislation regarding discrimination in schools and started working really hard to close them.
For a while, more than half of the legislative body was working really hard to create stronger laws and speed up their approval so as not for Emily’s case to occur ever again.
Emily gets due recognition
Emily’s perseverance and dedication earned her various recognition and accolades.
She received awards from multiple local and national organizations recognizing her efforts to promote inclusivity and create safe spaces within every school in the country.
As she continued to speak up against inequality and discrimination in the classroom through various interview requests, Emily also earned recognition for her activism.
Inspiring others to speak up
Through her advocacy work, Emily inspired others to stand up against discrimination and create a more equitable society.
Her story became a beacon of hope for those who had experienced similar injustices, not only within the classroom setting but pretty much everywhere.
Recognizing the immense power social media holds, Emily urged everyone to share their experiences online and bring their perpetrators to justice.
As time went on, Emily’s impact continued to grow.
She became a role model for students, educators, and activists alike, empowering them to fight for justice and equality in their own communities.
As a result, Emily also earned awards from the national government in recognition of the impact she had made, not only within her community, but on a national scale.