‘You’ll have to work harder in life because you’re black’: What teacher told 11-year-old mixed-race pupil at school

September 12, 2012 | by | 0 Comments

The outraged mother of an 11-year-old boy has received an apology after a school official told her son he would have to “work harder in life” – because he is black.

Rosamaria Failla , 34, was disgusted when the truancy officer told her child Sonny that he would struggle in life because he is not a “white British boy”.

Vulnerable Sonny, who suffers from ADHD, had been struggling with teachers at Bowmansgreen School, Herts., when his attendance started slipping.

Sonny Lewis-Failla with his white sister Gina. He was told he must work harder in life because he is black

Sonny Lewis-Failla with his white sister Gina. He was told he must work harder in life because he is black

In a bid to make the youngster feel better about education she arranged for council truancy officers to visit him at home in July.

But Rosamaria was outraged when the officer gave Sonny a brutal evaluation of his life prospects, warning him he would “have to work harder in life to gain people’s respect” because of his colour.

She instantly complained to police and the council about the comment, which she claims was “racist”

Sonny wrote to officials claiming her British-born son had been told: “Because you are not a white British boy, you are going to have to work harder in life to gain people’s respect and achieve high things.”

Hertfordshire County Council has now launched a full investigation into the claims while the officer has written a letter of apology to the family.

Mum-of-two Rosamaria said she was “absolutely gobsmacked” when she heard what the officer said.

She said: “The comment was ridiculous and I am confused as to why she would say something like that.

“I am upset and was absolutely gobsmacked at the time. It was highly offensive and clearly racist.

“After the meeting, Sonny didn’t say much but you could see in the way he acted the comment had really got to him and he was clearly upset.

“It has become clear to me there is no racial equality within the council and it is of great concern to me that adequate training is not being provided to those who will be and are involved in my son’s future.”

Sonny, who started secondary school at Verulam School in St Albans, Herts., this month, said: “It didn’t make me feel very nice and I didn’t feel very confident when starting a new school.”

The schoolboy, who lives with his white mother in St Albans, Herts., has grandparents on his father’s side from Grenada, in the Caribbean.

But Miss Failla, whose mother was originally from Italy, says Sonny’s race should play no part in concerns about his school attendance.

In the letter of apology to Miss Rosamaria and Sonny the white, female officer, who made the comments wrote: “I am sorry for any hurt or upset that I caused to Sonny or yourself in conversation at this visit.

“This was not in any way intentional and I was concerned to hear that you felt that this was the case.

“I acknowledge that the comment I made may have not been helpful and I regret any negative impact it may have had.”

A letter from Justin Donovan, director of children’s services at Hertfordshire County Council, read: “I understand the officer is very upset that you found her comments offensive and she has written to apologise to you.

“Nevertheless she clearly should not have made the comment she did and I understand why you are so concerned.”

A spokesman for Hertfordshire County Council said: “We take any such allegation extremely seriously and will be conducting a full and thorough investigation.”

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