Mock funeral draws outcry from teachers

Mock funeral draws outcry from teachers

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - A Memphis principal’s plan to motivate her staff by holding a mock funeral backfired Wednesday.

Her teachers were so upset, they contacted their union reps.

School union leader Keith Williams said he is still stunned.

First year principal Tina Smith, staged a mock funeral complete with a program, flower and a baby in a casket.

The funeral also came with a pamphlet which read "In Loving Memory of Madam 2 to 3 years behind."

"And that was her way of shocking, I guess, or getting it to the forefront that they needed to improve," said Williams.

Getwell Elementary serves about 400 African-American and Latino students in Memphis.

State test results show the children are only 37 percent proficient in math and 22 percent proficient in reading.

Williams said Smith had her teachers walk past the tiny casket in a procession with Whitney Houston's "Greatest Love of All" playing in the background.

"I'm just not real aware...or real sure...that this young principal realized the error of her ways," said Williams.

SCS leaders issued a statement saying, “the principal acknowledged the activity could be seen as insensitive and apologized to the entire staff.”

Williams said the woman charged with teaching children their ABC's gets an "F" for failing the teachers on her staff.

"But that is not an academic way. It does not speak to standards. It does not speak to protocol in any profession to do that," said Williams.

SCS Commissioner Miska Clay-Bibbs represents Getwell Elementary. She gave a response to mock funeral.

“I do not think whoever planned this event was mindful that death and anything involving children being portrayed in a hurtful manner is acceptable. I hope this type of event will not be used as demonstration again," said Clay-Bibbs.

No students were present to witness the mock funeral.

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