Ferndale Teacher No Longer w/District after Defending Use of N-Word, Debating Oppression in Video
(Crystal A. Proxmire, Jan. 19, 2022)
NOTE: The video and article contain racial slurs.
Ferndale, MI – A Ferndale math teacher is no longer employed by the district after being caught on video admitting to using “the n-word” and arguing with students over racial issues such as oppression, the death of George Floyd, and whether he is allowed to say the word “n*gger” or not.
Matthew LaLone ceased being employed by Ferndale Public Schools in early December after cell phone recordings of the incident were brought to administration’s attention. The video below contains racial slurs and topics:
“We can confirm that the teacher in question is no longer an employee of Ferndale Schools,” said FPS Communications Director Bill Good. “Out of respect for employee privacy we cannot comment on any actions taken against current or former employees.”
Legal restrictions prevent him from discussing the employee specifically, however Good did say that “Whenever an accusation is made against any staff member, we immediately investigate, review all evidence, and interview those involved. After concluding our investigation we take action if it is warranted.”
The conversation appears to have started when the teacher used the n-word when talking with a student about their use of the word. It devolved into LaLone questioning whether black students are oppressed and arguing that the Civil War ended oppression, as well as him saying he was allowed to say the n-word.
“While the incident shown in the video does not represent who we are as a community of educators, it does shine a light on the importance of prioritizing our equity work as a community. Ferndale Schools has been at the forefront of educational equity. In 2019 we adopted the district’s first equity based strategic plan. You can learn more about that by visiting this link. We also recently published an update on our progress in meeting the goals laid out in the strategic plan. That can be found here.
“During the strategic plan process we also adopted our first equity based district vision statement:”At Ferndale Schools, we are a school family of continual learners. We support each and every student to develop their purpose, plan, and passion. We encourage and honor dialogue about the histories, cultures, and goals of our communities. We actively and intentionally facilitate equitable access and representation, meaningful participation, and high expectations for ALL.”
Oakland County Times asked Good how the school district generally would have teachers respond to students using the slur.
Good said that “FPS utilizes a restorative practices approach to discipline. When language issues arise (affective language is on the RP continuum), we use our restorative practices protocols to help students understand how their behaviors affect others and work to engage in positive interactions.” He recommended the website www.understood.org as a resource for those wanting to learn about Culturally Responsive Teaching. According to the site, “Culturally responsive teaching (CRT) is a research-based approach to teaching. It connects students’ cultures, languages, and life experiences with what they learn in school. These connections help students access rigorous curriculum and develop higher-level academic skills.”
As far as the teachers themselves, Good added that “FPS provides extensive training to all of our staff regarding culturally responsive teaching, bias identification and equitable teaching practices. Our professional development is aligned with our strategic plan and the district’s equity-based vision statement.” There are 170 certified teachers on staff, serving 3,000 students from a diverse mix of backgrounds.
LaLone told Oakland County Times via Facebook, ” I’ve resigned from FPS. I still care for the community, staff and students. I value my experiences as teacher in that district. I’m sure there have been or will be some misunderstandings or misinterpretations. However I have moved on.” He did not respond to the opportunity to further explain the remarks made in the video. He is now working for Waterford Schools.