For the first time since News4 exposed allegations of racist and derogatory comments made by Mt. Juliet High School teacher Wes Tewmey, a member of the Wilson County School Board is speaking out.
News4 reached Wes Tewmey by phone on Monday. He called the story “fake news” and the accusations against him “lies” and hung up.
Meanwhile, News4 has now spoken with eight current and former students who recount stories of racially charged and derogatory comments made during class.
“He would keep using the word ‘Japs’ when discussing the Japanese,” said one former half-Japanese student, who asked to have her identity protected in fear of retaliation.
"I asked him, ‘Can you please not say that word? It’s really offensive,’" explained Tewmey's former student. "And he cut me off and said, ‘Well, my grandfather used [that term], and so will I.’”
News4 has reviewed Tewmey’s entire employment file. However, despite multiple reports from current and former students that say they made complaints about the teacher to school officials in the past, there were no complaints from parents or students in the file.
Now, some believe their complaints were simply dismissed or covered up by the school's administrators.
One former student, who also wished to remain anonymous, provided News4 with a message she sent to Wilson County Schools Communications Director Jennifer Johnson on Friday.
"Every complaint my family made about him to the Principal is like it was just swept under the rug,” the message read.
Some of Tewmey’s former students have reached out to News 4 offering praise for him.
“I can confidently say I NEVER experienced any racism from Coach Tewmey,” 2008 graduate Arlisha Clark said. “He was a strict authority figure but he also had an extremely funny side, and always pushed us to be better during our track seasons.”
In a statement to News4, school board member Gwynne Queener said:“Being new to the board of education, I’m not aware of the circumstances. The very best thing you need to do is continue to investigate and talk to parents and get the answers the parents and students want. As a former teacher and parent, if what was said is true, I am concerned about it."News4 first reported about Tewmey when a current student says he was kicked out of school for reporting comments made by the teacher.
After that story went viral, dozens of his current and former students have come forward with allegations against him to News4 and in posts online.
Stay with News4 for updates on this developing story.
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