The Kennebunk school district is investigating racist, homophobic and transphobic statements allegedly made by a school staff member on social media.

“We were made aware last week of a concern about alleged discriminatory statements made by an RSU 21 staff member that were shared by a third party on social media outlets,” Regional School Unit 21 Superintendent Terri Cooper said in an email this week. “The district is investigating this matter and cannot comment on pending personnel matters.”

Cooper did not name the staff member involved, but she was responding to a reporter’s questions about a compilation of TikTok videos that identify education technician Harmoni Morales making statements such as “all Black people today want to do is complain about the white man” and that using “neopronouns” is asking people to “feed into your mental illness and if we don’t we’re some kind of phobic.” Neopronouns are gender neutral pronouns sometimes used by the LGBTQ community.

The woman identified as Morales also says in the video: “All I hear is systemic racism and how it’s against the Black community, yet there’s affirmative action in place that all you have to be is Black and you get accepted to a college.”

RSU 21, which covers Kennebunk, Kennebunkport and Arundel, was the subject of a high-profile complaint about the district’s response to racist incidents that came to light two years ago. Since then the district has engaged in diversity, equity and inclusion work, and undergone a change in administration.

“Although we cannot comment on personnel issues, I can express that RSU 21 is committed to ensuring that our school community is a safe, welcoming place to learn and to work,” Cooper said. “Our mission statement provides a pertinent part: ‘We believe that all students must learn in an environment which allows them to develop positive attitudes toward themselves and genuine respect for others.'”

The Kennebunkport Consolidated School’s website lists Morales as an ed tech in special education. An email to her school address was returned Monday with a message to contact Principal Karen Bubar. When a reporter stopped by a house at an address listed for Morales on Tuesday, a man answered the door and said Morales was not interested in speaking to the newspaper.

The compilation of TikTok videos on YouTube was put together by Jessica Luther Rummel, a graduate student and activist at the University of North Texas in Denton, Texas. TikTok is a social media platform where users share short videos with followers.

Last month, when Texas experienced an unusual cold weather event that left millions without electricity, Luther Rummel posted a video on TikTok about her experience and concerns during the storm. She said the video was criticized by people who were attempting to politicize the situation. During a back and forth with some of those users, she ended up coming across Morales, who Luther Rummel said was encouraging others to harass and attack her.

Luther Rummel compiled and published on her YouTube account two compilations of Morales’s TikTok videos. She also shared the videos with the Press Herald and the school district.

“People like this who are teachers have a certain level of public and social accountability, and if you’re going to put your opinions and statements out there when you are a public figure, and I consider teachers to be a public figure, it’s only fair the community knows who those individuals are,” Luther Rummel said.

One of the videos is more than 13 minutes long. It includes commentary on transgender bathrooms, which Morales says are concerning “not just in schools but, yes, out in public,” as a headline displays in the background about transgender bathroom policies leading to attacks on women.

“People can use it as an excuse. Anyone can say they identify as a transgender woman,” Morales said.

Many of the clips in the compilation address race. In one, Morales recounts the events leading up to the death of George Floyd, the Minneapolis man killed by police last summer and whose death spurred Black Lives Matter protests around the country.

“My point is, things could have ended differently if he had just listened,” she says.

In another video, a definition of white privilege appears on the screen as Morales says, “I am going to go through piece by piece and break this thing apart because this is absolutely ridiculous. I cannot believe that people are OK with this and they are believing it.”

In 2018, a Black teacher in RSU 21 filed a complaint with the Maine Human Rights Commission regarding the district’s handling of racist incidents, including when a student brought a Confederate flag into her classroom and another filmed her reaction.

In June 2019 the district paid $50,000 and agreed to amend the employee evaluation of teacher Rosa Slack after she alleged she was retaliated against for reporting such incidents and asked that the district provide more race-based training for students and staff. An independent report in October 2019 found Slack experienced harassment and that high school supervisors did not take appropriate steps to respond to her allegations.

School board Chair Art LeBlanc said he had no comment beyond the statement issued by the superintendent.

“To be clear, as a district we denounce and we will not tolerate bigotry, racism or bias centered on ethnicity, class, gender, age, mental and physical ability, nationality, religious affiliation, sexual orientation, gender identity or other protected classification by any student or employee at RSU21,” Cooper said in her email Monday. “Our school system is one that welcomes all students.”

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