Meopham School pupil accused of Nazi salute in racism row
A TEENAGER was last week excluded from a Meopham school after a teacher accused him of performing a Nazi salute in class.
Fourteen-year-old Ben Hayward is said to have made the hand gesture while clicking his heels and saying ‘Heil Hitler’at Meopham School, in Wrotham Road.
But Ben, who denies using the phrase and clicking his heels, says he was unaware he was being ‘racist’ when he stretched out his left arm to imitate his teacher, who was using her hand to signal for the class to be quiet.
Following the incident in November last year, Ben was punished with a two-hour after school detention.
However Ben and his parents refused to accept the punishment and demanded a meeting with the school in a bid to have the incident thoroughly investigated.
His father Scott Hayward told News Shopper: "We asked the school to talk to the teacher as we thought she may have misjudged the incident as racist.
"At most it could have been seen as undermining her authority but definitely not racist.
"If investigated properly with witness statements from the other 20 or so children there, it would show the teacher was mistaken."
Although the detention was postponed, headteacher Matthew Munro contacted the Haywards in January to say Ben must serve the punishment but the school was prepared to no longer describe the incident as racist.
The 41-year-old added: "We refused as we said all along we wouldn’t accept a change of accusation, especially after accusing our son of racism without further investigation and causing so much upset to all our family."
On Friday, Ben came home from school and told his parents he had been in exclusion for the day.
His father says Ben had his phone taken away from him and "all communication with the other children was severed."
Mr Hayward, who lives with Ben in Cuxton, added: "It’s been upsetting because Ben has been questioned again and again because we’ve not been getting answers from the school.
"But we stick by our son."
Mr Hayward says he is now going to lodge a complaint with the board of governors.
Meopham School headteacher Matthew Munro said:
"The standard procedure when students have an after school detention is if they miss it twice they will have a day of internal exclusion in our internal exclusion unit.
"We had discussions with Mr and Mrs Hayward and we did agree we wouldn’t categorise it as a racist incident but that it would be a serious incident and the punishment would stand.
"A racist incident is defined by perception of other people rather than the intention of the person who committed it and this is the point we tried to make.
"The fact remains a teacher took great exception and perceived the incident as racist.
"However, as I said this was a point we were willing to re-categorise and that is where we left it."