Surprise, surprise. The white teacher who was filmed fighting with a Black JCPS student at Marion C. Moore School and allegedly told the kid he was “just going to be another Black boy shot,” has a history of saying and doing problematic things in schools and in his personal life.
WAVE 3, WFPL news and the Courier Journal have recovered William Bennett’s personnel files from his time at Hardin County, Elizabethtown Independent and Bullitt County schools in Kentucky and have discovered that Bennett has been reprimanded for saying inappropriate things to students and manhandling them.
In fact, his record goes back to 1999 when Bennett worked in Hardin County. Credit to WAVE 3 for this info: Bennett shook a disruptive student out of the student’s desk and grabbed the student’s arm and shirt as the student walked away, according to letters written by Bennett, the assistant principal and other students who witnessed the event.
That same year, Bennett said he pinned a student who he thought was going to attack him. The student was fighting with another student immediately before. One of the students involved said Bennett was acting in self defense. But, Bennett’s contract was not renewed at Hardin County for the next school year.
In 2001, the Courier Journal reports, Bennett was fired from Elizabethtown Independent Schools after he was arrested for breaking into his then-girlfriend’s apartment to see if she was cheating. Bennett told students he “wouldn’t change what I did” and that it was “the manly thing,” according to his termination letter. The charges against Bennett were dropped, but he was fired.
In 2019, Bennett was suspended for five days from teaching at Bullitt County schools, where he allegedly said several inappropriate things to students at North Bullitt High School, according to WFPL. Here’s a list, written to Bennett in a letter from Superintendent Jesse Bacon: “I love guns; I love the Second Amendment; take it away, I’ll shoot you,” “Transgenders are non-binary,” “Feminists are modern day Nazis,” “Millennials are just stupid; they whine too much and are too sensitive,” “He put a tube up my Talley-whacker,” “Are you watching animal porn again” and “I could just slap you.”
If you’re wondering if Bennett was contrite about these incidents, the evidence in his personnel files point to “nah.”
At Hardin County, according to WAVE 3, he was told to watch instructional tapes after the incident in which he grabbed a student’s arm repeatedly.
Bennett told the superintendent at the time that he didn’t learn anything new, “because the things described in the videos were things he learned from reading biblical scripture,” according to WAVE.
He also said, “Mr. Crum strives for a utopian society which is no different from what the liberal individuals were pushing in the 1960s.”
And, “I will continue to be who I am and that which God made me. I know my philosophy works as it has for many others who are successful leaders. I am also a good soldier and I will obey the orders you have given me even though I disagree.”
Bennett’s behavior has been reported to the state Education Professional Standards Board, according to news reports. But, no disciplinary action against Bennett has ended his teaching career… yet. (Bennett has also worked at Nelson County Schools.)
WFPL reported that Bennett was offered another contract to teach at North Bullitt High School in 2019 but resigned to go work at JCPS, where Bennett’s pattern of treatment toward students may have finally caught up with him.
On Aug. 23, a video posted to social media showed Bennett pinning Jamir Strane, a student at Marion C. Moore.
According to Strane, he had tried to enter Bennett’s classroom, but the teacher objected to the face mask Strane had on, which Bennett called a bandanna.
During the verbal confrontation, Bennett told Strane, “You’re just going to be another Black boy shot,” which prompted Strane to punch Bennett.
The video of the fight, which was posted to social media, begins while the altercation is already in process and Bennett has Strane pinned.
In the video taken at the combined middle and high school, Strane is struggling as other students attempt to pull Bennett off Strane.
Strane is able to free his hands during the scuffle to hit the teacher several times.
Eventually, another adult enters the shot. He pulls Bennett off Strane, but the teacher knees the student in the face and grabs the student’s hair, holding on for several seconds.
The other adult appears to try and pull the teacher’s hand off of the student’s hair before the video ends.
Bennett has been reassigned while JCPS investigates the fight. Meanwhile, Strane was suspended for 10 days (longer than Bennett was suspended for his comments at Bullitt County, we might add.)
In a post on Facebook, Bennett has said, “the truth has yet to be revealed” about the JCPS fight, and, “We have the complete school footage and the actual statements made.”
Oh, and for good measure, here’s a YouTube video of Bennett waxing poetic about the Confederate flag: