Megan Torres and Janelle Faison stood up to their children’s private Montessori school in 2019 after the director locked herself and Janelle’s four-year-old child in a room the size of a closet.
Prior to this incident, Megan’s 6-year-old son was asked to leave the school mid-year. Megan’s son’s contract was canceled by the Director the same day Megan complained of intimidation and tone policing from a different administrator, a woman of color.
The abrupt timing of this dismissal resulted in the loss of over $50k in state-issued scholarship funds for Megan’s son. Despite Ohio Senator Maharath making a statement to reconsider the scholarship due to concerns of bias, and a former teacher alleging bias, the state agency in charge of the scholarship and finally, governor Mike DeWine denied reconsideration. (It’s worth noting that DeWine’s communication advisor is on the school board of directors and that the Director of the Montessori worked in the past as the Assistant Bureau Chief of the Childcare Division at the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services, the same division charged with investigating the alleged misconduct involving one of the children.)
With the help of local organizers, both mothers held a protest on the first day of school to draw attention to the use of seclusion in schools and tone policing Black women. They rallied a robust antiracist online community using the hashtag #weseeCMEC to highlight unfair and often unconscious bias from white people that cause trauma for Black parents and children at school. Their story was picked up by NPR. Megan’s story used as a case study for unconscious bias at last year’s American Montessori Society national conference by Montessorians for Social Justice.
Their story is a case study for bystanders in what to do (and what not to do) when you find yourself observing blatant injustice.