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Two Mount Olive Teachers Were Fired After Calling Students ‘Negroes’ – Is the Term “Negro” Offensive?

Flikr user bloomsberries
Flikr user bloomsberries

If you’ll pardon the pun, this is not quite black and white.

A couple of teachers in Mt. Olive were stripped of their jobs and tenure for referring to African American students as “Negros.”

By itself, the term “Negro” to me, while not offensive, is antiquated. But then again, I’m not African American.

However in the current politically correct climate of the times, when we’re debating whether or not the mascot of the Washington Redskins is appropriate, do you feel this antiquated term conjures up negative stereotypes?

It all depends on the context, and you’ll see why it’s derogatory in the following story:

Two Mt Olive teachers have lost their jobs and been stripped of their tenure following racial remarks the two made about African-American students last year, according to the state education commissioner.

Brigitte Geiger and Sharon Jones were brought up on six administrative charges by Larrie Reynolds, the superintendent, for unbecoming conduct and other charges based on a conversation they had in the locker room that was overheard by two students, according to the Office of Administrative Law records.

Administrative Law Judge Tiffany Williams, who heard the initial case, said in her ruling this past July one of the students told school officials that Jones said, “Yeah those Negroes think they are tough (expletive),” to which Geiger replied “Yeah, that’s all they are, just a bunch of Negroes, Negroes, Negroes.”

The other student’s account in the decision was similar, but had more profanity.

Both students provided handwritten accounts of the events to school officials, according to court records.

In her decision, Williams said “both Geiger and Jones’ own testimony revealed frustrations with a group of African-American students at the school, which tends to lend credence to the credibility of the complaining students.” Williams, who only ruled on the charge of unbecoming conduct, dismissed the pair for their conduct, “including their lack of contrition.”

Reynolds said the pair, who had been on administrative leave since September, was officially terminated on Oct. 8.

Reynolds said. “It’s unfortunate that it occurred,” “We wish the employees the very best in the future. We have an obligation to our students and staff to uphold the highest standards of professional conduct. We take that seriously, and unfortunately, in some cases, it warrants action like this. This was an unfortunate incident and we had to do what we thought was right.”

Geiger, a Flanders resident, was the head field hockey coach at the time of the incident and had served as a teacher for 28 years. Jones was a teacher for 30 years.

Should the teachers have been fired?

Seeing is how they’ve been caught “dead to rights” and didn’t even deny having spoken the way they did; I’d say the firing is justified. They, like Vicki Knox, who criticized her school’s policy on LBGT week some time ago on her Facebook page, compromised their credibility on being impartial to students of a certain background.

However, the title of the article is misleading, but does beg the question: Is the use of the term “Negro” offensive?

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