A white secretary at a Louisiana school abruptly resigned from her position late last week after making racist comments about Martin Luther King Jr. Day in a text conversation with a coach.
In a Monday Facebook post, self-described artist-activist-organizer Walter Geno McLaughlin shared a video that included an image of Nelwyn Fontana, the office secretary at Ouachita Parish Junior High School, along with a screenshot of the alleged text messages, which referred to “n****r day.”
A local outlet reported that the messages—which were confirmed by officials—were sent to a coach at the school, who was stunned by what they’d received.
“Nelwyn Fontana is office secretary at Ouachita Jr High in Monroe, LA and took time on this #MLKDay to let us know how she really feels about honoring Dr. King,” McLaughlin wrote in the post. “What she didn’t realize is that she accidentally sent her hate filled message to the wrong person.”
McLaughlin continued: “These are the type of people we entrust to educate our children. …From what I understand the school district allowed her to resign but there are many who feel like she should’ve been terminated.”
In the screenshot of the message, Fontana informed the coach about the upcoming Martin Luther King Jr. holiday.
“N****r day lol mark Luther king,” she wrote, according to the screenshot.
“Huh ? Say what? Where that come from,” the other person responded.
“Remind your play[ers] Sunday [we’re] off Monday . For Mark Luther King Day Monday,” Fontana continued, appearing to confuse King Jr.’s first name.
In a letter Monday, Principal Darren Wheeler confirmed the secretary’s departure to parents.
“Unfortunately on Friday evening, a text message which contained a racial slur from an employee was brought to our attention,” the principal wrote. “That employee is no longer employed by the Ouachita Parish School System. We do not condone any racism in our schools and community.”
A Monroe, Louisiana, community member also posted about the ordeal on Facebook, writing, “God is exposing some folks. This is [Nelwyn] Fontana @ Ouachita Jr. High.”
Her Facebook post received nearly 700 comments, over 500 reactions, and more than a thousand shares.
Community members were also quick to say that racial issues at the school run deeper than one official, and many felt the secretary should have been immediately fired instead of being allowed to resign.
“Anybody actually from Ouachita.. and grew up in that system.. we’re not shocked… lol.. we grew up in that shit,” someone commented under the post.
“How you get fired on your day off though,” another wrote.
A parent of a Black student at Ouachita Junior High who wished to remain anonymous told The Daily Beast that their child has dealt with discrimination from teachers.
“It’s been one thing after the other with this school,” the parent said.
Wheeler declined to comment further or clarify why exactly Fontana chose to quit her job. He directed other inquiries to Ouachita Parish School Board, which did not immediately respond to multiple requests for comment.
Fontana did not immediately respond to The Daily Beast’s request for comment Tuesday.