YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – An employee for Youngstown City Schools is on paid leave. District officials are looking into a derogatory voicemail a parent says she received.
We talked with the student’s mother, Heather Belanger, Wednesday and discussed what the call was about and the troubles she says she’s had leading up to this.
On March 18, Belanger says she received a voicemail from her daughter’s school – Paul C. Bunn Elementary.
The call came in at 1:10 pm from a number at the school. It was regarding Belanger’s daughter’s attendance for online classes.
The message said in part: (Identifiable information has been removed)
I’m sure this is not the message you would like. For me to call and have children services know that they are being responding on a voice message or that’s being left when we call to see why your child’s not in school.Voice message from Paul C. Bunn Elementary
“She called about my daughter’s attendance. The thing is my daughter, when I am working, has to be at the daycare or with a babysitter, and I cannot control when she logs on,” Belanger said.
The message from the school continues to say:
I’m gonna expect you to answer and talk to me like you have some sense and not have some ignorant person answer your phone. I’m gonna call you back in about five minutes, and I’m gonna need you to pull it together and not have somebody else answer your phone, acting ignorant and excuse my language but ******ish (racial slur). So, you’re gonna pull it together and answer the phone and have a little bit better sense and respectfulnessVoice message from Paul C. Bunn Elementary
And according to Belanger this wasn’t the first call from the school.
“That’s after numerous calls I’ve taken from her before of her threatening me that she was going to pull up on me,” Belanger said.
Belanger added that after learning of her daughter’s absences the first time, she did try to get her on the right path of logging in for class.
“Took away the phone, took away the tablets. I cut screen time. She was on punishment for over a month, but there was only so much I could do because I have to go to work,” Belanger said.
In the past few days, after she says her daughter went in for state testing and was made to feel uncomfortable by the employee, Belanger decided to take further action, contacting the school board.
She said the school did offer to set up a meeting to try to mediate. She said the most shocking thing was hearing that racial slur used in the voicemail.
“To speak about a child or family or anything, I don’t think is appropriate whatsoever,” Belanger said.
We reached out to Youngstown City Schools, and spokesperson Denise Dick said the employee is suspended with pay, pending the investigation. She did say that if the allegation proves true, it is unacceptable.