South High School administrators refused to accurately report student misconduct to Minneapolis Public Schools and retaliated against a math teacher who repeatedly pressed for better documentation and solutions to rampant misbehavior and drug use in her classroom, the ousted educator alleges.

Becka Thompson, who was officially fired Tuesday over "inappropriate communication," called administrative mismanagement a "cancerous rot" in Minnesota's fourth-largest school district. She first used the term during a school board meeting, then again in an interview.

Thompson claimed her termination was in retaliation for her repeated calls for South High administrators to report violent incidents on campus to the central office.

"There's a double standard at South, and I was trying to make sure there was a singular standard," Thompson said in an interview. "The more I tried to talk with people and rectify the situation, the more pushback I got."

She was hired in 2022 to teach English language learners. That's the same year Principal Afolabi Runsewe took over for Steve Simondet.

Thompson was hired by a vice principal who left South High shortly after Runsewe was hired. She said Runsewe routinely dismissed her pleas for administrators to document violent and disruptive student behavior. He also refused to answer Thompson's questions about school policies, communication platforms and other issues, she claimed.

Thompson said Runsewe would respond to her questions with, "I didn't hire you."

District officials said employees can report harassment and discrimination through Minneapolis Public Schools' online portal. They may also flag issues with their union steward, which Thompson did, or speak with the district's ombudsperson.

District officials did not answer questions about Thompson's specific claims and Runsewe did not respond to a request for comment. The agenda for the Minneapolis school board's Tuesday meeting shows that one special education teacher's contract was suggested for non-renewal on the same day Thompson said she was fired.

Thompson was elected to represent District 2 on the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board in 2021, a role Thompson discussed with school leaders when she was hired at South. But Runsewe took issue with those duties, Thompson said, and suggested she reconsider continuing in the elected role while working at South.

A disciplinary letter Thompson received in November noted absences associated with her role as one of three "areas of concern." Thompson said she tried to discuss her schedule with Runsewe to no avail.

School leaders also accused Thompson of leaving lackluster lesson plans for substitute teachers and reprimanded her for locking her classroom door. Thompson said administrators never asked for photos or screenshots of her lesson plans.

Thompson said she locked the classroom door because students who weren't enrolled in the class would regularly walk in and interrupt.

"It was a way to help protect the learning environment," she said. "If you don't create a safe space to learn, kids won't learn."

Administrators told her the classroom doors should remain unlocked to foster a welcoming atmosphere. Officials didn't say whether district policy requires educators to keep their doors unlocked.

It was especially tough to educate students learning English, many of them new to the country, during those disruptions, Thompson said, adding that she had difficulty explaining why her pupils shouldn't break rules that others disregard completely.

She also tried to report fights and other violent incidents on campus but said her claims fell on deaf ears. Thompson also said students would deal drugs on campus and she'd notice some wander the halls while they were high.

Thompson wanted to send detailed reports to central administrators in the district offices but said she was regularly rebuffed by administrators at South. They accused her of wanting to punish the school's predominantly Black and brown students.

Each student group makes up about one-third of South's enrollment, according to state Department of Education data.

"It was not a punishment mentality," Thompson said. "It was about documentation."

Thompson stressed that she didn't blame students for the disruptive behavior and interruptions that plagued her time at South. She believes administrators were reluctant to document problems and act on them for fear of giving the school a bad reputation and affecting enrollment.

The Minneapolis district has struggled to attract families, which has led to declining state funding and a budget forecast rife with cuts. Thompson believes all of those issues incentivize administrators to downplay serious problems on campus, which leaves educators with few tools or support to address disruptive behavior.

"Believe me when I tell you that there's a cancerous rot running right down the middle of this organization," Thompson said.

Minneapolis Public Schools has stationed so-called "violence interrupters" at South High and a few other campuses since February 2022. Those people help school staff supervise hallways and monitor students during end-of-day dismissal and direct them to after-school programming, district officials said in a statement.

"These partners provide youth outreach and engagement services during part of the school day and then transition with students to out of school time," district officials said

Staff writer Mara Klecker contributed to this report.