RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — 2019 National Teacher of the Year and Richmond native Rodney Robinson has apologized after making what he called a “bad joke” on Twitter referencing the attack on Republican U.S. Sen. Rand Paul back in 2017.

In a since-deleted tweet, Robinson called on Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s neighbors to “step up.”

Sen. Paul was attacked by his neighbor while he was mowing his lawn at his residence in Bowling Green, Kentucky in 2017. Police arrested 59-year-old Rene Albert Boucher for the attack and sentenced him this year.

Paul reportedly suffered from six broken ribs and underwent surgery to remove part of his damaged lung.

2019 National Teacher of the Year tweets calling on Mitch McConnell’s neighbors to “step up.” This tweet has since been deleted from his account.

Senator Paul’s wife, Kelley Paul, reacted to Robinson’s tweet saying she was “so disgusted” and called Robinson a “hateful thug.”

Robinson later apologized for referencing the attack on Twitter and issued a longer apology letter on Medium Thursday morning.

In his apology letter, Robinson said that due to his ignorance of the situation, he did not know that Sen. Paul was seriously injured in the altercation.

“I apologize for making light of his injuries. I do not advocate for violence against Mitch McConnell,” Robinson wrote. “I was 100% wrong,” he added.

In a statement sent to 8News, Sen. Paul’s wife said Robinson’s apology was insufficient.

“I find Mr. Robinson’s ‘apology’ to be woefully inadequate and disingenuous.  He continues to describe the 2017 blindside attack on Rand as a ‘fight’ and an ‘altercation,’ which is completely false.  Mr. Robinson initially responded to critics of his repugnant call for more violence on our senators by calling them ‘conservative bots’ and implied that they were only criticizing him out of racist intent.  It was only after overwhelming condemnation on Twitter that he deleted his tweets and made his page private. I maintain that this man has absolutely no business teaching young people.  His tweet certainly doesn’t have the tone of a joke.  It is clearly hateful in intent and dangerous.”

Mrs. Kelley Ashby Paul

Robinson spent most of his teaching career as a social studies teacher at Armstrong High School, part of the RPS system. Most recently, he held a teaching job at Virgie Binford Education Center, a school inside the Richmond Juvenile Detention Center. 

He was the first Richmond Public Schools teacher to be named National Teacher of the Year.

In late summer, RPS announced they were hiring Robinson as a senior advisor leading the school system’s efforts to develop an initiative for male teachers of color.

RPS Superintendent Jason Kamras responded to the situation, thanking Robinson for his apology. “RPS doesn’t condone violence of any kind. Period,” Kamras tweeted.

After the backlash Robinson’s original tweet generated, many Twitter users questioned his advocacy record. Robinson responded to them in his apology letter, asking them to do more research on who he is and what he stands for.

For those who challenge my record of advocating for kids, I invite you to do more research on who I am and what I stand for. I have over 20 years in education working with underserved and underrepresented populations of children. Check out my website and click on several blogs I wrote and speeches I have given. Interview the thousands of students, families, educators, and community advocates I have built relationships with around the country to get a true picture of who I am. I will always advocate for children in America no matter their race, sexual orientation, gender, religion, or physical ability.

Rodney Robinson