Forsyth County educator criticized for posts on first lady

Screenshot circulated on Facebook

Screenshot circulated on Facebook

Update: Forsyth County Schools has fired paraprofessional Jane Wood Allen Monday. Read more here.

Original story: A Forsyth County educator is being criticized on social media for racist comments on Facebook about first lady Michelle Obama.

Facebook user Jane Wood Allen posted inflammatory comments about Michelle Obama while sharing articles about the first lady, according to screenshots shared on the social media site.

Jane Allen is listed as a Chestatee Elementary School paraprofessional, or teacher’s aide.

Forsyth County Schools spokeswoman Jennifer Caracciolo said in an e-mailed statement: “We have and will continue to address this issue with the employee on Monday,” adding that schools were closed for fall break last week. “Racism and discrimination are not tolerated in Forsyth County Schools.”

Allen’s Facebook profile has since been removed. Attempts by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution to reach Allen for comment were unsuccessful.

Caracciolo said the school district was “made aware of the posts” Friday morning.

The posts, including one that refers to Michelle Obama as a “poor Gorilla,” generated outrage and calls for Allen’s firing on Facebook and Twitter. Many commenters also listed numbers and e-mail addresses for school officials and urged others to contact them to raise concerns about Allen.

The social media firestorm took off after Roni Dean-Burren, a Ph.D candidate at the University of Houston, late Friday morning posted screenshots of one of Allen’s posts and her Facebook profile page, asking “Is that who you want teaching your kids? #askingforafriend”

“I think that this concept of referring to black people as monkeys or apes or gorillas is an age-old sort of racist comment that we’ve seen in this country for way too long,” Dean-Burren said. “I thought, how terrible…. It’s one thing for me to post something and say I think this is ridiculous, but people comment and people share it.”

By midday Saturday, the post had been shared more than 3,700 times and generated more than 620 reactions and 420 comments.

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