Two New Jersey gym teachers have been fired after making derogatory remarks about African-Americans, NJ.com reports.
The two physical education teachers, identified as Brigitte Geiger and Sharon Jones, were gossiping in the locker room and unbeknownst to them, two students overheard their offensive comments. According to the students’ testimony, on March 2, 2012, Jones said “Yeah those Negroes think they are tough (expletive),” and Geiger replied, “Yeah, that’s all they are, just a bunch of Negroes, Negroes, Negroes.”
When the students reported the incident, the NJ teachers were brought up on six charges for “unbecoming conduct” on March 23 of 2012, according to a source who spoke with NJ.com.
“[B]oth Geiger and Jones’ own testimony revealed frustrations with a group of African-American students at the school, which tends to lend credence to the credibility of the complaining students,” said Administrative Law Judge Tiffany Williams who heard the case. Due to the racially-charged exchange and “lack of contrition,” Williams concluded that Geiger and Jones should get the boot.
After the case was filed in March, the teachers were put on administrative leave — the pair had to do clerical work, mostly in libraries around the district, for most of last year. They officially got the ax on Oct. 8, NJ.com said.
“We have an obligation to our students and staff to uphold the highest standards of professional conduct. We take that seriously, and unfortunately, in some cases, it warrants action like this. This was an unfortunate incident and we had to do what we thought was right,” said Larrie Reynolds, the superintendent.
Geiger and Jones were tenured teachers, both having worked at the school for 28 and 30 years, respectively. “Reynolds said the district has terminated people before, but, to his knowledge, it’s never had to take a tenure matter to the [Office of Administrative Law] before,” NJ.com said.