After a black student at Fairfield Freshman School told his teacher that he wanted to become president, the white teacher’s alleged response was to tell the student that the nation didn’t need another black commander-in-chief.
On Thursday, the Fairfield Board of Education voted 4-0 to fire science teacher Gil Voigt, who had been on unpaid leave since a parent complained about the remark in December.
“The district felt that the evidence was sufficient to support the termination of Mr. Voigt’s employment,” Superintendent Paul Otten stated.
Voigt told school officials that the teen misquoted him. The teacher maintains that his response to the teen was that he didn’t think the nation can afford another president like Obama, “whether he’s black or white.”
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Voigt had taught in Fairfield schools in 2000; his years of teaching had been marked by a series of offensive comments, including a 2008 incident in which he pointed a laser pointer at a black student and commented that he looked like “an African-American Rudolph.”
While Voigt acknowledged that this comment was inappropriate, he also stated that he was simply repeating what another student had said.
In a 2012 incident, Voigt was accused of calling a student stupid and implying that he and his classmates were gay. Voigt’s reaction to that accusation was to deny have made any insulting comments, and insisting that students were “colluding” against him.
A state referee found that Voigt’s explanation was not credible in any of these three incidents.
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In a report to the board of education, the state referee stated that, “Voigt repeatedly engaged in conduct that is harmful to the well-being of his students.”
“He had made race-based, culturally based and insulting comments to students over a period of years,” the referee continued. Although Voigt had been repeatedly warned to alter his behavior, he failed to heed these warnings.
Voigt may now appeal his firing to a Butler County court. The decision of what to do with his teaching license lies with the Ohio Department of Education.