Teacher Tells African-American Student: “We Don’t Need Another Black President”

A science teacher in Ohio was suspended without pay in late December for allegedly telling an ambitious young African-American student that the country does “not need another black president.”

According to The Cincinnati Enquirer, the Fairfield City School District’s Board of Education suspended Gil Voigt from Fairfield Freshman School on Monday, December 23. This is the first step necessary for termination.

Voigt, who is white, is accused of making this remark after the student said he would like to become president. The incident occurred on December 3, with several other students present, according to a report from Assistant Superintendent Roger Martin, who conducted a disciplinary hearing on the matter.

The hearing happened because the student’s parents lodged a complaint against Voigt and got their son removed from his class. Four students who were interviewed corroborated the student Voigt was speaking to.

While most educators are concerned about the continuing achievement gap in K-12 public schools in the U.S., and numerous programs have been implemented to provide true equality and the best possible education for all students, apparently Mr. Voigt would prefer it if that achievement gap grew even wider.

Scarily, Voigt has been teaching in Fairfield for over 13 years, and another 15 years at other locations, so he has had plenty of opportunities to make such remarks before.

In fact, we know that the science teacher had been reprimanded for similar remarks in the past. A report prepared by Assistant Superintendent Roger Martin lists four instances of discipline: a verbal warning in April 2008 for an “inappropriate racial comment,” another in November 2008 for “improper use of school technology” and a third in December 2013 for “inappropriate comments to students.” He also received a written warning last month for “failure to use adopted curriculum.”

But at least this time the Fairfield Board of Education is paying attention.

“He was talking to some students and said some things that were racially insensitive,” Fairfield City Schools Board President Dan Murray explained. “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.”

“Obviously we’re very disheartened to have this situation with any of our staff members,” Superintendent Paul Otten admitted. ”It’s not something we’re proud of, and it’s something we must not tolerate.”

A big shout-out to this student’s parents for complaining, to his fellow students for supporting him, and to the School Board for following through and pursuing the right course of action.

It is notoriously difficult to terminate a public school teacher once that teacher has gained tenure, even when there are clearly grounds for a termination; at one high school where I taught, a teacher had racked up a series of offenses from almost running a student over to throwing chairs across the room and helping her students cheat on a test.

Those actions weren’t enough to terminate her, however, since she had tenure. She finally quit only after being offered a new position that the administration was sure she wouldn’t accept.

So I applaud the Fairfield School Board for their quick actions in moving to terminate Voigt.

It is unconscionable for a teacher to make a comment like this to a student. We don’t need any Gil Voigts in our nation’s schools.

Photo Credit: Thinkstock

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Donna Ferguson
Donna F.1 years ago

stupid-a$$ "teacher" (not a real teacher!) Good for the students for telling, the parents and the Fairfax School Board!! I hope he gets sued and loses a lot of $. very much hope he gets terminated!!

Maria W.
Connie W.1 years ago

wow., the teacher needs to go to etiquette and social behavior classes.

Bella M.
Bella M.1 years ago

Well done for suspending this teacher I believe he should be fired as somebody with such views has no place in education...I welcome a president with any ethnic background or gender..an ethic background or gender should never stop people doing whatever they want to do with their life and we should encourage children and students to dream big ,not belittle them....

Ana Marija R.
Ana R1 years ago

Teacher?! ... in 2014.? Very disturbing and disappointing...

David B.
David B.1 years ago

well done Family , Fellow students , and school board.

Linda Smallwood
Linda Smallwood1 years ago

What's wrong with having another black president? This young man ought to be encouraged to work toward becoming president. Any child, of any color or ethnic background, who wants to be president should be encouraged to study hard and stay in school. Nobody needs to have his hopes dashed.

Claire Jordan
Claire Jordan1 years ago

You need good, competant presidents - their colour, race or gender is irrelevant, although the US won't have achieved true racial harmony until having a president who is a Native American grandmother no longer seems remarkable.

Here too it is, or certainly used to be, very hard to get rid of a teacher. At my school, Heriots Wood Grammar School in north London in the mid 1970s, we ended up with a Religious Knowledge teacher who'd been passed around from school to school because each headmaster or -mistress gave him a glowing reference in order to get rid of him. We were the last school in the district to get him and had no-one to palm him off on. Looking back I suppose the poor bloke probably had Asperger's or similar but he had a deeply gloomy manner, long greasy hair which he washed only about once in six weeks and he was an obsessive Evangelist who openly stated that only Christians went to heaven - not a popular opinion in a school where 14% of the students were Jewish and nearly as many Hindu or Moslem.

When we came back to school the following September he was gone, and we were told that over the summer holidays the school had been formally closed down and all the staff paid off, and then it was re-opened and all the staff re-hired except him, because this was the only way to get rid of him.

Manuela C.
Manuela C.1 years ago

What a complete idiot!

Pinke A.
Pinke A.1 years ago

10 points to the Fairfield School Board! This was right and dignified way to deal with that situation! Teachers like Gil Voigt do not have the right to work as a teacher!
It is an important work,to have the right to learn children,make them grow up as thinking and fair persons.
Gil Voigt can not have that right any more!

Angela J.
Angela J.1 years ago

That's very sad.