A North Carolina parent says her 6-year-old daughter learned a racial slur as part of a school spelling lesson.
Jennifer Thompson said her first-grade daughter Emily received the word "gook" in a 10-word spelling assignment, reported the Gaston Gazette.
“We had to explain to Emily why she could not use the word and not to use it,” Thompson told the newspaper.
Todd Hagans, a spokesman for H.H. Beam Elementary School, said students were learning about the "oo" sound and that the teacher didn't realize the word's racist meaning.
“It was an oversight by the teacher,” Hagans said. “She never meant to be insensitive.”
Merriam-Webster defines "gook" as “an insulting and contemptuous term for a nonwhite, non-American person and especially for an Asian person,” and describes the slur as a variation of the word, “guck,” which is defined as "oozy, sloppy dirt or debris."
There's no other definition for the slur.
Thompson reported the slur to the school on Wednesday, and the teacher told her students were learning words that sounded alike, including "spook," which can also be used a racial slur.
“They said they were going off the word sounds and not necessarily the meanings,” Thompson said.
The mother told the teacher, whose name has not been released, that her daughter would not be spelling the word on any quizzes or tests, and the first grade teacher promised not to penalize her.
The teacher agreed to remove the slur from future spelling assignments.