Kankakee School District 111 at a school board meeting voted Tuesday to fire a Kankakee High School teacher who earlier this month was captured on video using a racial slur toward a student in class.
During the incident, the teacher insulted the student as he left the classroom following a “little argument” between the student and the teacher.
In the brief video, the teacher can be heard saying “I’m losing my job anyway” to the class right after saying the insult. We do not know where the argument between the teacher and the student comes from.
Shortly after the incident, the teacher was placed on paid administrative leave, a move that was heavily criticized on social media. However, the school board on Tuesday defended its disciplinary decisions, saying the paid vacation was part of the administration’s due process during an investigation.
Board secretary Tracy Verret described the situation, including the social media reaction, as “extremely disheartening”.
“I’m angry, I’m frustrated and my heart is broken,” Verret said during Tuesday’s encounter. “I can’t imagine that in 2022 our students would have been victims of racial slurs in the classroom.”
“Racism is real, micro-aggression is real,” Verret continued, moved. “This situation has impacted all of our students.”
District officials released the following statement when the incident occurred:
“We are disappointed with the incident which occurred in a classroom at Kankakee High School.
A teacher (in a minor dispute with a student) chose to use a racial slur as the student left the class independently. The teacher has been placed on paid leave pending a full investigation. At the end of the day today, KHS administrators took statements from students, chatted with students in class, and viewed several videos. The principal will make a recommendation to the Human Resources Department, followed by a recommendation regarding disciplinary action to the Kankakee School District 111 School Board.
We want to recognize the issues plaguing public education: mental health/anxiety among students and staff, teacher shortages, and equitable opportunities between students and teachers within the system. The video does not fully capture the work that needs to happen locally, in the state of Illinois and nationally. Video is a system of a much larger societal problem.
While this is a discouraging situation for our students, families and public education, the root of the problem must be systemically treated. In light of the circumstances, we are proud of how the students handled the situation. After talking with the students, the “laugh” heard in the video was a “nervous laugh”. Students in the class said they were shocked and had never seen a teacher use this terminology towards a student. Kankakee will continue the work we started in the 2021-22 school year (following the pandemic) around diversity, inclusion and equity as well as student/adult well-being. »