Ohio teacher fired over comment on Black president

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CINCINNATI (AP) — An Ohio teacher has been fired after a Black student who said he wanted to become president claimed the teacher told him the nation didn’t need another Black commander in chief.

The Fairfield Board of Education voted 4-0 on Thursday night to fire science teacher Gil Voigt from Fairfield Freshman School, according to The Cincinnati Enquirer (http://cin.ci/1kIkFmQ ).

“The district felt that the evidence was sufficient to support the termination of Mr. Voigt’s employment,” Superintendent Paul Otten said in statement.

Voigt did not immediately return a call seeking comment Friday but has said the student misquoted him.

Voigt, who is White, told school officials that what he actually told the teen was that he doesn’t think the nation can afford another president like Barack Obama, “whether he’s Black or White.”

A state referee investigating Voigt found that explanation was not credible.

The referee also found Voigt had made other offensive comments in class over the years, including an accusation that in 2008, he trained his laser pointer at a Black student and said he looked like “an African-American Rudolph.”

Voigt told school officials that he was only repeating what another student had said but later acknowledged his conduct had been inappropriate.

In 2012, Voigt was accused of calling a student stupid and implying that he and some of his classmates were gay.

In that incident, Voigt denied making any insulting comments to students and told school officials that a group of students in his class were colluding against him.

The state referee found Voigt’s explanation for those two incidents to also be not credible.

“Voigt repeatedly engaged in conduct that is harmful to the well-being of his students,” the state referee wrote in an April 11 report given to the board of education. “He has made race-based, culturally based and insulting comments to students over a period of years. He was warned on multiple occasions that if his behavior continued that he would be subject to termination. Unfortunately, for both Voigt and his students, he did not alter his conduct.”

Voigt may appeal his firing to a Butler County court. The Ohio Department of Education will investigate to decide what to do about his teaching license.

Voigt taught in Fairfield schools since 2000. He had been on unpaid leave since December following a parent’s complaint about the Obama remark.

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Information from: The Cincinnati Enquirer, http://www.enquirer.com

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