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Teacher suspended for telling student 'we don't need another black president'

A teacher in Ohio was suspended without pay for allegedly making racially insensitive remarks.

The Fairfield City Schools Board of Education suspended Gil Voigt, who has been a teacher at Fairfield Freshman School for 13 years, said Board President Dan Murray. It is the first step in the process of terminating the teacher, he said.

Superintendent Paul Otten said the incident took place earlier this month when an African-American student expressed an ambition to be president. Voigt allegedly replied, “We don’t need another black president.”

“He was talking to some students and said some things that were racially insensitive. 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,” Murray said.

Otten said Voigt had been reprimanded for racially insensitive 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.”

The report also notes “All evaluations have been satisfactory.”

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

Voigt taught seven years in North Carolina, two years in Florida and six years at Cincinnati public before joining Fairfield. He received a continuing contract in 2002, and his 2013-2014 contract stipulated a $73,566 salary. He could not be reached for comment.

Voigt has the right to appeal the decision before the school board within 10 days of notification, Otten said. Treasurer Nancy Lane and the district’s Law Director John Clemmons are drafting an official notification to the teacher.

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