The Georgia Professional Standards Commission confirmed Tuesday that a complaint has been filed against the Muscogee County teacher who used the N-word in the presence of elementary school students.
MCSD announced Friday the following disciplinary action against the Reese Road Leadership Academy teacher:
▪ Suspended her for two days without pay.
▪ Reassigned her to an undisclosed non-classroom position.
▪ Issued her a letter of reprimand and placed it in her personnel file.
▪ Required her to attend “cultural competency” training.
Also in the Sept. 29 news release, MCSD said its investigation of the Sept. 1 incident concluded Sept. 26 and found that the teacher used “a racial slur in an attempt to explain to a group of elementary school students that this same word should not be tolerated. The teacher’s choice of language, though intended to teach a lesson about racial tolerance, was misguided. … A teacher should never use a racial slur or expletive in the course of teaching students not to use the same word. MCSD does not tolerate the use of racial slurs in any context.”
The teacher, in a statement emailed to the Ledger-Enquirer on Sept. 29, recalled saying to the student, “If someone called me a white cracker, I would be offended. If someone called you a black n-----, that would be offensive. If someone called my biracial cousin mixed girl, that would be offensive.”
During the Muscogee County School Board’s meeting Sept. 18, the parents of the student the teacher was talking to, Equisha and Nathan Frazier, urged the Muscogee County School Board to fire the teacher. They also gave a different version of what the teacher told their daughter.
Mr. Frazier said the teacher was responding to something that another girl directed at his daughter and told her in the presence of another black student and a white student, “At least she didn’t refer to you as a dumb, black, n-----,” Mr. Frazier said. “And I’m saying it exactly how she said it to my child.”
Tanis Miller, the commission’s legal officer, told the Ledger-Enquirer in an emailed interview Tuesday, “Yes, a complaint has been filed with this office against this above referenced educator. However, the Commission has yet to review the complaint. No documentation is released from an open case.”
Asked who filed the complaint, when and why and what the next steps will be, Miller replied, “The only thing I can tell you is that the Commission will review the complaint at this month’s meeting, which is scheduled for Oct. 12. Should the Commission vote to investigate the allegations, the educator along with the complainant and employing school system will be notified of the investigation. If the Commission does not vote to investigate, the matter will be closed.”
In a subsequent email, Miller said the commission opened this case Sept. 22.
According to the Georgia Code of Ethics for Educators, the commission is “authorized to suspend, revoke, or deny certificates, to issue a reprimand or warning, or to monitor the educator’s conduct and performance after an investigation is held and notice and opportunity for a hearing are provided to the certificate holder.”
Tuesday evening, Bettina Davies, a network attorney for the Professional Association of Georgia Educators and an attorney with Cauthorn Nohr & Owen in Marietta, issued the following statement in response to the Ledger-Enquirer seeking the teacher’s reaction to the complaint:
“The teacher, who is well regarded by parents and colleagues, says that she sincerely regrets her use of a racial slur. She is adamant that her intentions were pure: She was illustrating that the use of this word is unacceptable. It is truly a teachable moment that has been blown out of proportion and misreported. The teacher asked to meet with the parents of the students involved, but they declined the invitation.
“The school system has completed a thorough investigation, one that found inconsistencies in how the children perceived the incident. One of the children recanted her statement of the event, telling school system investigators that what really happened supports what the teacher told investigators. The parents of that child have apologized for getting angry before understanding all the facts.
“The teacher was dealing real-time with a sensitive situation and now — with the benefit of hindsight — there is no question she would have handled it differently.”