Local News

Apex Middle School teacher suspended after being caught on video berating student

Posted May 11
Updated May 12

— A teacher at Apex Middle School was suspended Thursday after he was caught on video arguing with a student and using language that raised concerns for Wake County Public Schools administrators.

The video shows the teacher, Dick Wesendunk, who also serves as a coach, in a confrontation with a black student. He can be heard saying, “That’s what happened to the slaves. They were controlled by their owners. You’re letting them control you.”

The incident happened during study hall between a teacher and seventh grade student.

WRAL News obtained a copy of the video from the student's mother. It appears to have been shot with a cellphone by another student in the classroom. WRAL has removed parts of the video that show other students.

The student's mother, Ayonna Wilson, said she was upset by the video.

"It's 2017, we are not going through slavery anymore, so I just felt like it was the wrong choice of words," she said.

Principal Allen Ellzey sent a message to parents saying said an investigation into the incident was pending.

"This morning I became aware of a video that showing a teacher arguing with a student. I immediately contacted the WCPSS Human Resources department because the language used by the teacher raised concerns. They, in turn, suspended the teacher pending an investigation.

While we are not at liberty to discuss confidential personnel information, please be assured that the district takes any complaints against personnel seriously and is committed to fair and thorough investigations and resolutions of such matters.

In addition, I want to make it clear that we have high expectations for behavior and policies addressing codes of ethics for the teachers in our building. We strictly adhere to these expectations and enforce these policies.

I regret having to share this news with you, but I assure you that I am committed to maintaining a standard of excellence for our school. Please contact me with any questions."

But Wilson said she was not satisfied by the response.

"That's not satisfactory for me," Wilson said. "I feel as though he should not be working with children."

She said she is also concerned about her son.

"He is worried about the students because he was humiliated," she said. "They were laughing in the video and found it funny."

Wilson did say she has not had problems with Apex Middle School until now and still considers it a good school.

WRAL reached out to Wesendunk. The person who answered the phone said he was not available.


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  • Edward Anderson May 12, 12:37 p.m.
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    Y'know, the first three times I read this headline, I thought it said "beating" the student, which should definitely be a suspension offense, but merely telling the student that whoever is influencing his behavior is treating him like a slave? Seriously?!?! They suspend a teacher for that now?!?!?! DO glad I don't have kids these days. This is completely INSANE!

  • Andy Holt May 12, 8:36 a.m.
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    Wonderful job by WRALiberal of baiting the racial hook once again. As a product of the WCPSS for 12 yrs during the 70's, until 83' I can tell you from personal experience that THIS was NOTHING! To ALL of the teachers whom endured/tolerated my youthful years, I say thank you! Could the teacher have used a different analogy, sure.... but his message was VERY clear, and obviously it had NOTHING to do with race. What happened BEFORE this short portion of the video appears, was he following the crowd in causing a disruption? It is NOT the teachers job to deliver the message that this teacher was trying to get across , it should have already been taught at HOME ! If this video is an example of "berating", the kids of today should be thankful that they didn't pass thru the WCPSS during my formative years. We had "2" options..... "We can handle it now, or we can call your parents". NOT an option for me, it was ALWAYS handled "now". This PC culture has completely ruined this country.

  • Arron Lee May 12, 8:27 a.m.
    user avatar

    All you have to do is listen to the audio. The teacher never called the student a slave. He simply used an analogy. The student's and his mother's account of what was said and/or implied just doesn't correlate with the video. This appears to be another case of hearing what you want to hear and using it to intimidate the system.

  • Sean Creasy May 12, 7:24 a.m.
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    Due to the lopsided reporting by WRAL trying to make this a purely race related issue I wonder what the original provocation that initiated this confrontation was?

  • William Sherman May 12, 1:45 a.m.
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    I know that the school system must truly be run by people who have absolutely no clue about what goes on with middle and high school kids. It is apparent that none of the officials involved have ever heard of "peer pressure". This whole thing is just pitiful..

  • Ben Hill May 11, 10:35 p.m.
    user avatar

    View quoted thread

    So true! Being berated by my teachers (ie priests in a Catholic school) was a tough lesson, but a good one in hindsight. As hard as they were at the time, they paid off in the long run. This video with Mr. Wesendunk brought back those memories for me as well.

  • Kevin Weidner May 11, 8:39 p.m.
    user avatar

    I agree with Danita Freeman. Watching the video brought back all of my memories from middle and high school for all the times I was berated by my teachers in the Wake County public school system. I just wish I could thank them.

  • Danita Freeman May 11, 8:13 p.m.
    user avatar

    Maybe he should have pulled him to the side but I don't think he was being racist or malicious. He was telling him to be his own person and don't let others control your actions. We have enough real racism, let's not muddy the water.

  • Victor Cruz-Saez May 11, 6:59 p.m.
    user avatar

    View quoted thread

    I don't think the school system gave WRAL the video.

  • Eric Rothman May 11, 5:51 p.m.
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    This says nothing! Just because he used the world slave to a black youn man, doesn't belong mean anything negative! He said NOT TO BE CONTROLLED AS SLAVES WERE! we have no idea the context or lesson this man was trying to teach! I'm. It saying he was right or wrong! We don't know until we know more of the story!!