COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - Multiple calls are coming from several outraged community members, for the Muscogee County School Board to fire a teacher who reportedly admitted to using a racial slur when addressing two African-American students at Reese Road Elementary.
Antonio Carter, one of several to speak directly to the board during Monday's public agenda, specifically called out the four African-American members of the district board: Vanessa Jackson, Kia Chambers, Naomi Buckner and board chair, Pat Hugley-Green.
"As soon as you heard that a child - a black child - had been called a dumb, negro n*#%&r... why does it take the white guy to create a 'zero tolerance' policy?" Carter was one of several voices who expressed their frustration and anger.
Pat Hugley Green shared the district's position on the matter - that the board does not condone that type of language or act. As it stands, the school board has removed the employee from Reese Road to a non-teaching position within the school district.
More parents and concerned attendees approached the lectern to speak to the school board.
"For a teacher to say those words to a child, I'm just disgusted."
"I'm upset," said Michelle Dovishaw. "My children are upset, because they say, 'Mama, how is it right for this teacher to call that little girl that word?'"
The man Carter referred to during his allotted time was board member John Thomas, who proposed what he called a "zero tolerance" policy banning all school district employees from using racial slurs, spoken or written.
"A lot of people have reached out and said this is something that's long overdue," Thomas said before the start of the meeting.
"If people can't control their bad judgment, then let's make a rule that makes them think twice about whether they should say something like that or not."
Once Thomas read his proposal out loud, board members debated how exactly to incorporate this policy into the district's code.
"It's important we be very clear that any policy we discuss, vote on and approve, does not supersede any state law or federal law," said Hugley-Green. She was referring to the Georgia Fair Dismissal Act. The act states tenured teachers are protected from sudden termination without due process.
Kia Chambers brought up an existing policy, citing no teacher or other employee of the Muscogee County School District should use a racial slur. "The difference," Chambers said about the policy, "is it does not say there is'"zero tolerance.'"
"Tonight, a cancer was exposed in this room," board member Frank Myers said. "We've got to do something about it. This board has to act."
The board did not adopt Thomas' proposal during the meeting, but several members said they're open to discussing further and seeking advice from the district's lawyers to ensure the superintendent can enforce this proposed policy.