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Some Richland High students threatened a walkout Tuesday morning in defense of a teacher who isn’t in class today after recently showing an R-rated movie in her classroom.
The walkout, however, did not materialize. The students had posted on social media they intended to walk out of class at 10:30 a.m.
At 10:50 a.m. the school appeared quiet, with no traffic going in and out. A lone Richland Police Department cruiser left the parking lot around 10:45. A few minutes before that, an ambulance and a fire truck departed campus.
Some RHS students posted on Instagram and Twitter, calling for all students at the Rankin County high school on U.S. 49 South to walk out in hopes Mary Porter will be allowed to return to the classroom. The posts first appeared Monday.
Porter showed “Dolan’s Cadillac” starring Christian Slater, WJTV reported. The movie contains violence and profanity. Students told the television station that Porter showed them the movie for an assignment in which they were to compare the movie to an Edgar Allen Poe story.
Parent Sammie Bateman told the television station she complained. She said her daughter at the school is Asian, and that race issues in the film were not properly addressed. Bateman, who said she has three children at Richland High, said the movie contains derogatory Chinese slurs.
With the hashtag #bringmsporterback, a number of students defended the teacher, who also is Richland High’s bowling and golf coach. “WORST mistake RHS has ever made,” tweeted Allison Sonnenberg.
“I had a teacher show us Braveheart in school once, and I’m relatively well-adjusted. #bringmsporterback,” tweeted Tim Murphy.
“Gunna try to convince our trig class to do the walk out #bringmsporterback,” tweeted Kaysey Redfern.
And, Marshall Kranz tweeted: “One of the best, funnest teachers I have ever had. Probably the dumbest move this faculty has ever made! A great woman! #bringmsporterback.”
Rankin County school district spokeswoman Robin Haney has been asked by the newspaper Porter’s current status and years with the district; whether students have been admonished not to walk out; and what the district’s policy is on the showing of movies in the classroom, including whether R-rated movies are permissible in any situations.
Porter could not immediately be reached on her cell phone or home number, but a Facebook post she wrote around 1:30 a.m. Tuesday addressed the ordeal.
“This has been a most overwhelming day for me in many ways,” Porter wrote on her personal Facebook page. “As I trudge off to bed, I feel a lot of love floating around me! Thanks for all the comments and words of encouragement!”
According to the school district’s employee directory, Porter has taught at Richland High for three years and is a National Board Certified Teacher. Her directory page says she teaches ninth-grade and 10th-grade English this year. Porter is a 19-year teaching veteran, her directory page says.
Students in her regular classes this year will read “Of Mice and Men” and complete a research paper tied to the novel, and students in her honors classes will read the classic “To Kill a Mockingbird,” her class information section on the directory page says.
Bateman told the television station that the teacher tried to conceal the incident when she realized her mistake.”My children reported that they were instructed not to tell. Don't talk about this movie in the hallway and don't tell your parents," Bateman told WJTV.
Posted on Twitter by Alana Daniels is a goodbye letter written on a class dry-erase board, purportedly written by Porter to her students. It reads: “Kids, I want you to know that you are never too old to make a mistake, and I made a big one by playing a movie with my 10th-graders. I will forever be sorry for my error in judgment. I want you to know I love each of you and wish you only the best.”
It’s signed “Mporter.”
Staff writer Dustin Barnes contributed to this report. To contact Ruth Ingram, call 601-961-7303.