KANKAKEE COUNTY, Ill. — The Kankakee School Board voted to fire a teacher Monday night after a video posted online showed him hurling a racial slur at a student in the classroom.
The student’s family doesn’t think the termination was enough, saying the teacher’s firing was just a band-aid to the problem.
The widely-shared video showed a teacher at Kankakee High School calling 15-year-old Michael Nelson Jr. a racial slur as he exited the classroom.
“I was afraid, nervous,” Nelson said. “The word has never been approached to me by a white man or a black man or any type of race, or any type of person said that to me.”
After the video was posted online, the algebra teacher was placed on administrative leave until the school board met.
Kankakee School Board Christopher W. Bohlen spoke about the investigation.
“Be aware that we were all horrified by what we saw on video just as you were, but we had to make sure what we saw was an accurate portrayal of what occurred,” Bohlen said.
Superintendent Dr. Genevra Walters said the act was ‘absolutely unacceptable.’
“We acknowledge that there’s nothing that a student can do to deserve having that word used against them,” Walters said. “There’s nothing that that student did to deserve it.”
But the sophomore’s mother, Geraldine Nelson and family attorney Kevin O’Connor say the incident shouldn’t have happened in the first place. The family claims the teacher threw a book at Nelson on Sept. 29 and the racial slur came after the teacher returned to the school.
“Two weeks ago, they should have been taken care of this because that’s what I was promised when they informed me of the first incident,” Nelson said.
“We have a teacher who assaulted and battered a child by throwing a book at him on Sept. 29. Not only should the police have been called, DCFS should have been called because you are now abusing a child. They are mandatory reporters. The assistant principal, the principal, the superintendent should have taken action that day. We wouldn’t have had this second incident happen if they took action on this day,” O’Connor added.