School System in Mississippi Echoes Slavery’s Sentiments & Showcases ‘School-to-Prison Pipeline’

Photo credits: Facebook/Tiffany Burdette

Every facet of the U.S. society’s power structure has elements of the very same white supremacist foundation, which made America into the powerful but deeply flawed republic that it is today.

This archaic reality is pervasively the case when it comes to the U.S. public education system. At the federal, state, and municipal level, education policy makers in the public sector (regardless of their ethnicity) are essentially the gatekeepers of a broken system that is divided along three main lines: Race, class, and demographic location.

Earlier this year, a professional research team working for EdBuild published a report, which factually proved how education funding is disproportionately allocated to predominantly white school districts. Nationally on average, $23 billion dollars more is allocated to predominantly white school districts than predominantly non-white school districts.

In Mississippi, the poorest state in the U.S. union, a slightly different story is told, according to the EdBuild study. Predominantly non-white school districts get 12 percent more funding than predominantly white school districts in Mississippi. However, the white policy-making majority decides how that money is spent, for the most part.

In the city of Batesville, Mississppi, a disparaging policy-making incident happened in the beginning of the current academic school year. But this incident was not born of a funding issue. It was born of a racist white teacher’s bullying, a blind defense by a school principal, and a wrongful adjudication by a black assistant superintendent.

The city of Batesville is within the borders of Mississippi’s South Panola Public School District. On September 10, 2019, a 12-year-old black girl was reportedly bullied by a white female teacher at South Panola Junior High School. The teacher’s name is Misty Kilgore Wright. The only media source that has covered this story is

This is a New York-based organization that published a limited report on its blog regarding this matter on September 19.

Wright has been a teacher at South Panola Junior High School for 10 years. The 12-year-old black girl’s mother in this case is Tiffany L. Curry of Clarksdale, Mississippi. Curry, 31, is also the mother of four other children aged three to 10-years-old. On the day in question, Curry’s 12-year-old daughter told her that Mrs. Wright castigated her.

Curry’s daughter was called “Twitter dumb” by her teacher and made the butt of Mrs. Wright’s piercing jokes before a full classroom. Subsequently after speaking with her emotionally distraught daughter, Curry went to South Panola Junior High’s principal Jason Matthews’ office to demand that action be taken against Mrs. Wright.

However, Curry’s course of action to remedy this situation with school administrators came to no avail. No special meeting was held to rectify the matter, no apology was given, and as far as anyone knows, no action whatsoever was taken by the school. This led Curry to report her case to the office of the South Panola district superintendent.

However, instead of cooperation, Curry’s complaint to district-level administrators was met with even more hostility. Dr. Jamone Edwards, South Panola’s Assistant Superintendent, even suggested that Curry’s daughter was lying. Why would a child who was deeply hurt behind an immature and cruel act by a responsible adult lie about something like this?

Dr. Edwards (a black man) took things a step further on the side of injustice and enforced a permanent ban against Curry. This indefinite ban prevents Curry from retrieving her four other children from school who all attend public education institutions within the borders of South Panola County.

The ban also hinders Curry’s ability to be available to her four school-aged children in the case of an emergency. This raised fears in the mother of five and she eventually spoke to a detective who works for the Batesville Police Department. Curry was not given a hearing prior to Dr. Edwards’ ban and she feared for her personal safety.

However, the detective refused to deal with Curry’s report and did not want to be involved in the situation whatsoever.

“[Detective Brown] told me that there was no report because he ripped the paperwork up. This happened on September 23rd,” Curry told me in a phone interview.

“Even though the police knew that the school district’s criminal accusations against me were complete lies that they only told to enforce the ban, the department didn’t care one bit about the safety of my kids,” Curry also told me.

“But that same detective came to my house along with a Panola County sheriff’s deputy. The had some more paperwork. They told me that I wasn’t in trouble with them but that I had to stay away from the schools,” she continued.

That statement goes a long way to back up Curry’s credibility because no charges of criminal threat or physical harm were filed against her, according to the Batesville Police Department. However, these serious allegations were officially written into the ban that Dr. Edwards enforced.

His reactive and cowardly act of retaliation will be official on October 4 when Curry gets her final copies of the formal ban’s paperwork. In the meantime, the resilient mother continues to fight through the obstacles she faces in spite of what has happened to her.

“When I take my kids to school in the morning, I park a long way away from the school properties so they can walk the rest of the way without me being arrested. The same thing goes for the afternoon to pick them up. My sons’ father helps too but he’s taking nine different medications for heart failure so he can only do so much,” she also told me.

This whole scenario has also deeply affected Curry’s 12-year-old daughter.

“My daughter had a knife that I found under her pillow and was thinking about suicide! Now she is getting help at the Tri Lakes Medical Behavioral Center twice a week with her therapist. It’s too early to tell if the treatments are working right now. Her first counseling session was November 21 2019,” Curry finally shared.

This is a very serious matter that Ms. Curry is facing. Suicide among black children has risen over the last decade, according to an October 2019 report by WebMD.  Though non-black professionals like Dr. Amy Norton (the author of the WebMD report) claim that researchers are not sure why this is happening, black parents like Curry know exactly why.

Bullying of any kind (race-based, gender-based, religion-based, etc.) has no place in a single U.S. school whether it is private or public. It is quite disturbing to see an incident where a school district not only protects a teacher’s raced based bullying but retaliates against a responsible parent who reported it.

HVY Journalists will continue to follow this case as more details and key findings are revealed in the future.