Columbia charter school teacher fired after accusations of writing racial slur on the board

Published: Oct. 22, 2021 at 2:45 PM EDT|Updated: Oct. 22, 2021 at 6:16 PM EDT
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - A teacher at Clear Dot Charter School in Columbia has been fired following accusations of writing the n-word on his class’ board.

The decision came after a couple of hours of protest outside of the school Friday by fewer than a dozen activists and parents who had heard about the incident from their children.

“I was shocked and appalled, I’ve been around [him] for over two and a half months, and I couldn’t believe that that is what he would say in a classroom,” Melanie Swygert, a Clear Dot parent said.

Swygert says her daughter was in class when the teacher wrote the slur on the board.

Swygert’s daughter told her that in September the teacher reasoned that he wrote the slur on the board as a way of reminding himself to tell administrators one student said the phrase to another.

Clear Dot is not releasing the teacher’s name at this time, but Swygert said he is white and the school is majority Black.

“I personally feel as though he was being a little facetious when he did it because why else would you write that,” Swygert said. “I can’t figure out any other reason why he would do that in a class full of African-American students.”

After announcing the teacher was fired following the protest and the meeting with the school principal, the director of the charter school said there are other allegations against the teacher being investigated but the ”preliminary investigation” into this incident is over.

“We can not speak to details right now, but we did have staff members and teachers confirm that there is something that was written on the board that needs to be investigated,” Vamshi Rudrapati, the director of the Charter Institute of Erskine said.

Clear Dot Charter Principal Lindsey Ott said the allegation of a teacher writing a slur on the board was brought to her attention by parents who came to meet with her today.

“The safety and comfort of my students is paramount to me and the fact that they feel welcome and appreciated and safe at Clear Dot is my number one concern at all times,” Ott said.

According to a letter written by a lawyer with the South Carolina Department of Education, this educator received complaints last spring while he was working at another school.

“The South Carolina Department of Education received notice of allegations that you were connected to social media accounts advocating racist and anti-Semitic views,” the SCDE letter dated April 29, says.

However, the Department of Education said “due to a lack of evidence” they were not going to be taking any action against the teacher or revoke his educator certificate.

SCDE would not comment on the letter or the educator’s disciplinary history.

When asked about previous allegations of expressing racist views, Director Rudrapati said they had received emails with accusations against the teacher but the school had “limited options” regarding how they could act at the time.

“Based on the new allegations today, we made a decision,” Ott said. “There is no place here for anything other than inclusion.”

As she was leaving her conversation with Ott and Rudrapati, Swygert said she was impressed by the school’s quick action and is proud to be sending her daughter to Clear Dot.

“I’m not my ancestors, I’m going to stand up for what’s right,” Swygert said. “I want my daughter to be included and feel included in anything and everything she does in this country.”

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