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Teacher on leave after classroom slavery discussion goes viral

Posted at 7:16 PM, Feb 15, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-15 19:16:03-05

CAPE CORAL — A teacher at Island Coast High School is on leave after a student in his class recorded a discussion the class had about slavery, and the clip went viral.

The video was posted to the website Tik Tok over the weekend, and it already has more than a million views. It immediately sparked outrage with some viewers. One of them was former School Board Candidate Curt Sheard, who said the teacher’s words showed "blatant racism."

The video started off talking about the treatment of slaves.

“White people do what?" said the teacher.
"They would crack the slaves with the whips," said a female student.
"They wouldn’t do that to slaves," said the teacher.
"How do you know, were you there?” said the male student filming the video.

After getting posted to Tik Tok, that video was seen by millions, and Sheard said he was disgusted by what he saw.

"Enslaved Blacks were whipped. It’s documented, and how is this person still teaching?” said Sheard.

People also took issue with comments later in the video, where the teacher discussed the meaning of the N-word.

“The N-word just means ignorant. It doesn’t have any other meaning in any other vocabulary other than you are a stupid person," said the teacher.

School Board Member Gwynetta Gittens said, after hearing that, she looked it up for herself.

"I looked up in Webster’s Dictionary the N-word, and the first thing in there is that it’s derogatory to African Americans," said Gittens.

Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary even includes a section, addressing the misconception saying “There has never been a definition like "an ignorant person" for this word.”

"This is a person who is supposed to be educated, or educating our students, who’s lying to them," said Sheard.

Gittens said she’s hoping the District’s investigation will determine if the problem is bigger than a single teacher.

"How systemic is it? Is this, how much have we trained and talked to our educators?” said Gittens.

Gittens said she’ll wait until the investigation is complete before making up her mind about how the District should move forward, but for Sheard, it’s clear.

"This is just blatant racism. He needs to be terminated in my opinion, and his teaching license needs to be removed," said Sheard.

The School District has not said how long the investigation will last, or how long the teacher will be on leave. The District also did not reveal the identity of the teacher.

We tried to reach out to the student, but have not heard back.