The Milpitas Unified School Board voted 3-0 to “approve a notice of intent to immediately suspend without pay and dismiss” a certificated employee Tuesday during a closed session meeting, according to Board President Hon Lien.
The board’s fourth member, Michael Tsai, was out sick, Lien said at the top of the meeting.
The district did not identify the employee by name. However, multiple sources confirmed to The Beat before Tuesday’s meeting that the closed session involved the employment fate of Milpitas High School (MHS) teacher David Carter.
Carter wore blackface on Halloween last year to impersonate rapper-activist Common. He has been on administrative leave since early November, just days after the incident. The district opened an investigation into his actions soon after.
Superintendent Cheryl Jordan has since conceded that Carter should have been sent home on the day of the incident.
The move comes after an impassioned plea by Carter himself in a January board meeting, asking for his reinstatement. He was also joined at the meeting by his parents, community members, and students in support of him.
In an interview with The Beat, Carter said he covered his face in thick, dark foundation, and wore a turtleneck, a black jacket with zippers, and black jeans to imitate Common in one of his Microsoft commercials.
“It was a fake TED talk and the speaker had something to share with the world,” he said. “And it was my dream to be that for the students. I told everybody I was going to become the Microsoft AI guy. About a week before Halloween, they [some students] asked if I knew who he was. I said I didn’t. They told me it was Common.”
Carter said he was so moved by Common’s message that he wanted to dress up as the rapper in order to inspire his students.
The veteran teacher maintains that he didn’t think his actions were racist.
A video of Carter imitating Common was posted on social media, and garnered national media attention, including comments from Common himself.
As the video went viral, community members ranging from the NAACP to members of the City Council convened for discussions about the historical significance of blackface. MHS held a schoolwide talk, the school’s Black Student Union condemned Carter’s actions, and district employees underwent racial sensitivity training.
Calls for Carter to be fired became louder in the weeks after. He said he received threats on Twitter and Facebook.
“It was a scary time,” Carter said.
Carter was informed earlier this week by a union representative that his best course of action was to resign, since it was likely the school board would fire him at Tuesday’s meeting.
Scott Forstner, MUSD’s spokesperson, declined to comment on Carter’s case, citing confidentiality agreements. According to Forstner, Carter presently remains on administrative leave with the district. In addition, the district will not make the results of their internal investigation public.
Carter spoke to The Beat earlier today and maintained that he had received no official word about his employment status from the district.
In an unrelated case, the board also accepted the resignation of an elementary administrator in the same closed session meeting.