ALBANY, GA (WALB) - The members of the Dougherty County School Board voted unanimously Wednesday morning to levy a five-day unpaid suspension against a middle school teacher for using a racial slur in the classroom last year.
The board over-rode Superintendent Dr. David Mosley's recommendation that she be terminated.
Dr. Debra Johnson, who is black, has been on leave since December from Southside Middle School.
After the Dougherty County School Board voted only to suspend Dr. Debra Johnson, School Superintendent Dr. Butch Mosely said he still thinks the middle school teacher should be fired for saying the racial slur in front of her class. "This conduct is wrong, grossly wrong. And then when you get color involved in it, it gets volatile," Mosely said.
Dr. Johnson has worked as an educator for nearly 30 years and teaches social studies at Southside Middle School. After Thanksgiving break, she told a class of about 20 that the "N" word was what people in the community think of them.
Supporters of Johnson said she did it to inspire the students. "It was positive in the way that she put it. She was trying to support Southside, saying we would not be labeled," Kenneth Florence said.
But parents at Southside Middle today had their doubts. "I don't really think that's appropriate language. To use in a school. Because that can offend a lot of people, and cause a lot of complications," Deaundra Thomas said.
Dr. Johnson has been on suspension since the incident, mostly without pay, so her five days have already been served. Now officials say they will have to review records to determine how much salary she will be repaid, and if, when, and where she would return to the classroom.
"I think she would be back very soon. We've got to kind of work out the details," Dougherty Co. School Bd. Attorney Tommy Coleman said.
Complaints came in after Johnson uttered the phrase, attempting to teach the students about becoming better citizens, and improving behavior.
One question brought up often in the tribunal was what if a white teacher had used the "N" word to a class. Dr. Mosely told the Board today that two more teachers are facing this same issue, and one is white.
The board said each case will be determined on its own merit.