10-12-2008, 08:59 AM
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Teacher Suspended for teaching kids Obama's a nigga
A Marianna middle-school teacher has been suspended for 10 days without pay after he wrote a racially charged interpretation of a commonly used phrase in the presidential campaign of Sen. Barack Obama.
While some parents and community activists were outraged by the actions of Greg Howard, Jackson County NAACP officials want to gather more facts before the group considers taking action. But some parents feel Howard should be fired.
Larry Moore, deputy superintendent for the Jackson County School District, said school officials determined Howard wrote an acronym with an explanation on a dry-erase board in his class Sept. 26 at Marianna Middle School.
It said, "C.H.A.N.G.E. — Come Help A (N-word) Get Elected."
Howard, who's been teaching in the district for 17 years, wrote the comment during his seventh-grade social-studies class that included 17 white students, six black students and one Asian.
Howard was suspended with pay Monday while the incident was investigated. The reprimand was elevated to a 10-day suspension without pay starting Thursday. Howard also must write a letter of apology to the students.
Howard will be reassigned to teach in the district's Adult Education Program.
"We feel like the punishment is sufficient," Moore said. "We did not feel he had to be fired."
Moore said Howard did not have any other disciplinary action prior to this incident.
But some parents are livid that the teacher would use the "N-word" in classroom.
"To me, it's hurtful," said Audrey Wad, a Marianna resident with nieces and nephews at the school. "The idea that he would impose his political opinion on the children is wrong to me. That's where he crossed the line."
Elmore Bryant, area director and former immediate past president of the Jackson County branch of the NAACP, said Howard spewed his racially charged "poison" onto students.
Bryant, who taught in Jackson County for more than 40 years, said Howard's comment was "totally inappropriate, out of place, out of character and bad timing."
Of the NAACP, he said, "It's always our position to get all the facts from all sides before we do any action."
Moore said the district will send its investigation findings to the Florida Department of Education's Office of Professional Practice Services, which will determine if further reprimands, such as revoking Howard's teacher certification, will be handed down.