'Lower ones are Blacks': Georgetown Law professor fired after comments about Black students caught on camera

WASHINGTON -- Georgetown University Law Center fired a professor and placed another on administrative leave after a Zoom conversation involving complaints about Black students was recorded and made public.

Adjunct professors Sandra Sellers, who taught at the prestigious Washington, D.C., law school for nearly 20 years, claimed her Black students routinely grade lower than others in a conversation with colleague David Batson.

"I hate to say this. I end up having this angst every semester that a lot of my lower ones are Blacks, happens almost every semester," she said in the recorded conversation posted to Twitter last week.

"And it's like, 'Oh, come on.' You get some really good ones, but there are also usually some that are just plain at the bottom. It drives me crazy," she continued.

Georgetown terminated Sellers and placed Batson on administrative leave while its office of diversity, equity and affirmative action investigates. Batson was removed from any involvement in the course he discussed with Sellers in the clip, according to the university.

The university also said it is "taking significant steps to ensure that all students in this class are fairly graded without input" of either professor.

Bill Treanor, the law school's dean, called the conversation "reprehensible and "abhorrent," adding that the termination and investigation "is by no means the end of our work to address the many structural issues of racism reflected in this painful incident" and that the school needs "more comprehensive anti-bias training."

Professor Anthony Cook, who also teaches at Georgetown Law, said the school's actions were appropriate but it needs to take action to move forward.

"I was shocked but not surprised ... You would hope that we were farther along," he told "Good Morning America." We're moving on now to try to see if we can figure out what systemic and structural changes might be made to prevent this kind of thing."

Georgetown Law boasts on its website that with 27 full-time faculty of color, students will never be alone. Yet with 192 full-time faculty members total, minorities represent just 14%. And out of a total of 815 faculty members, only 35, or 4%, are non-white.

"When it comes to vulnerable populations ... [they're] in positions of being subject to the powers that be in ways that can be quite harmful, emotionally, psychologically and economically ... it has far-reaching consequences," Cook said.

Sellers apologized for what she called her hurtful remarks but acknowledged irreparable harm she's done to students she's supposed to help excel.

ABC News reached out to both professors in the video. Batson has not replied. Sellers said she has no comment but shared a resignation letter, writing that she is "deeply sorry" for what she calls "hurtful and misdirected remarks."
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