FAIRFIELD, Ohio — A local teacher could lose his job after multiple witnesses came forward to accuse him of making a racially insensitive comment to a student.
The Fairfield Board of Education voted Monday to suspended Gil Voigt after he told an African-American student at Fairfield Freshman School the country doesn’t “need another black president,” according to Superintendent Paul Otten.
The comment came after the student approached Voigt, who is white, and told him he had ambitions to be president of the United States.
“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,” Board President Dan Murray told the Journal-News.
Murray said the unanimous vote by the five-member school board is the first step in the process of terminating the teacher.
This isn’t the first time Voigt has been in trouble for making racially inappropriate comments, according to a report prepared by Assistant Superintendent Roger Martin.
He received a verbal warning in April 2008 for an “inappropriate racial comment,” according to the report obtained by the Journal-News.
The report also lists three other instances where Voigt was disciplined.
In November 2008 he was cited for “improper use of school technology." Five years later, in November 2013, he was disciplined for “failure to use adopted curriculum.”
He also received a written warning last month for “failure to use adopted curriculum.”
“Obviously we’re very disheartened to have this situation with any of our staff members,” Otten told the Journal-News. “It’s not something we’re proud of, and it’s something we must not tolerate.”
Voigt was not present at the meeting Monday and was not able to be reached for comment by WCPO.
Ninen Romero, of Morrow, Ohio, said she couldn’t imagine a teacher saying something like that to one of her three teenagers, regardless of the context from which it was said.
"The purpose of the teacher is to teach the students, not criticizing to anybody," said Romero, who is of Filipino ancestry.
"I've heard some comments about (my children), and just told them to ignore it and go on,” she said. “That's not the purpose of going there, to entertain those types of comments."
Voigt has been a Fairfield teacher since 2000. Before that he taught seven years in North Carolina, two years in Florida and six years in the Cincinnati Public Schools, according to the Journal-News.
He is eligible to request a hearing before the school board. Voigt had 10 days from the time of his suspension to make the request.
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