Salvador Hernandez, Los Angeles Times
LOS ANGELES — A teacher at a Fontana middle school can be heard repeatedly using a racial slur during an exchange with a student in class that was captured on video.
The video that was posted last week on Facebook by a parent of one of the students in the classroom shows a teacher from Sequoia Middle School standing over a student’s desk and saying the N-word while trying to get the student to say the word.
“Say it,” the teacher tells the student as the student looks toward the floor and classmates can be heard giggling in the background. “Why? You asked me how to spell it, so go ahead and pronounce it: n—. Pronounce it after me: n—. n—.”
Students told KABC-TV that the class was reading and discussing a Mark Twain novel that contains the racial slur when the student asked the teacher how to spell the N-word.
It’s unclear when the incident occurred, but the video has been widely shared on social media, prompting Fontana Unified School District officials to send a message Thursday to parents. Superintendent Miki R. Inbody called the incident an “unfortunate exchange” between the student and teacher.
“While the use of the word was in connection to its use in a historical literary work, there was a lack of understanding regarding the emotional impact of using this word could have on our students,” Inbody said in a message posted on the school district website. “We understand that such incidents can be hurtful and upsetting, especially for students who come from diverse backgrounds.”
Inbody said the school district is looking to take steps to prevent similar incidents from taking place. She didn’t identify the teacher, or say whether the teacher had been disciplined.
Officials at the school district and Sequoia Middle School did not respond to requests for comment.
In her message to parents, Inbody said officials would be providing training to school district staff, including administrators, teachers and staff “to understand the importance of creating an inclusive and respectful learning environment.” She said the school district would also be working with the city of Fontana to create a community event to “come together in support of a more cohesive and compassionate community.”