Mother may sue Columbia Co. BOE over toilet incident

By: Stephanie Baker
By: Stephanie Baker

She's upset, she's confused, and she says she wants answers.

A mother claims a River Ridge Elementary teacher forced her son to clean a toilet seat. Michelle Vann claims her son Xavier was singled out because he's African American. (Click here to read News 12's original story.)

Hundreds of people showed up to support Michelle Vann as she took the podium at Tuesday night's Columbia County Board of Education meeting.

The school board says the turnout came as a surprise.

"She embarrassed me in front of the classroom," Xavier Vann told News 12 back in April. It was his claim that sparked the crowd at the BOE meeting. The room so full, people lined the walls.

"What you do to children when you single them out...him being the only African American boy?" Vann asked.

Vann says Xavier's teacher publicly blamed him for urinating on a school toilet, and forced him to clean it.

That led to an investigation, which superintendent Tommy Price says was complete even before this meeting.

"I'm really caught by surprise. This is several weeks old and I haven't heard anymore from the parents since I met with them, and did not understand there were concerns that had not been addressed," Price said.

"There was a perception he experienced that day in front of his peers that he was dirty, different in some unacceptable way," Vann said.

Concerns were raised not only from the parents, but also from a room full of others in the community...from Columbia and Richmond counties.

"When I was a child...running at the last minute to the bathroom could mean an accident," said minister Sean Starks.

"Seeing someone else's child go through made me feel real bad, so that's why I'm here," said concerned parent Letroia Parker.

"I'm anxious to see what's going to happen. I don't think it was right, and we're going to find out what they're going to do," said another parent, Debbie Gant.

The board says the issue has been resolved privately...but board member Mike Sleeper says they always welcome feedback.

"I had been given an understanding a bunch of people would show up," Sleeper said. "It's a great experience for them to see how a great school system operates."

"Don't just turn your head and minimize it," Vann said to the board. "Please respond adequately."

Vann told the board she does not think the incident has been handled properly.

Sources tell News 12 the family's lawyer, Randolph Frails, gave the board a legal notice of intent Tuesday night. That means they may file a lawsuit.

Since all this happened, Vann says she decided to home school her son.

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