Race

Ohio Teacher Tells African-American Student: We Do Not Need Another Black President

| by Sarah Fruchtnicht

An Ohio teacher was suspended Monday for making a racially insensitive remark to an African-American student who said he wanted to be president one day.

The white teacher, Gil Voigt, is accused of telling the student, “We do not need another black president.”

The Fairfield Board of Education suspended the science teacher from Fairfield Freshman School on Monday.

The incident occurred on Dec. 3, in front of several other students.

“He was talking to some students and said some things that were racially insensitive. We take diversity in our school district very seriously with tolerance of people who are different. We just felt this teacher had crossed the line,” said Board President Dan Murray.

After the student’s parents complained to the school, he was removed from Voigt’s class, Martin said.

Voigt taught at Fairfield for the last 13 years, and this isn’t the first time he’s been disciplined for a racial remark.

He was issued a verbal warning in April 2008 for an “inappropriate racial comment”; another warning in November 2008 for “improper use of school technology”; a written warning last month for “failure to use adopted curriculum"; and another verbal warning earlier this month for “inappropriate comments to students."

The recent warning came after he allegedly called a student “stupid” and belittled him.

“We intend to uphold board policies and to hold teachers accountable for the essential functions of the teacher job description,” Martin said.

Voigt has 10 days to requests a hearing before the school board or a referee.

He is accused of violating board policies related to harassment, staff ethics, and staff-student relations.

According to Martin’s report, Voigt said the student misquoted him. He said he only told the boy he was not a very good student and was troublesome in class.

“Obviously we’re very disheartened to have this situation with any of our staff members,” said superintendent Paul Otten. “It’s not something we’re proud of, and it’s something we must not tolerate.”

“This is a rare occurrence. This is the first time I’ve faced it since being named assistant superintendent,” said Martin, who took over the job in 2011.

Sources: Cincinnati.com, Hamilton Journal-News