Substitute teacher uses N-word in Carol Stream classroom

A substitute teacher who used the N-word while talking about race to students at a Carol Stream school last week won't be asked back, Carol Stream Elementary District 93 officials said.

A substitute teacher last Wednesday in an eighth-grade social science class at Jay Stream Middle School took a history lesson off task when she started discussing race during what was supposed to be a lesson on the Cold War, said Bill Shields, District 93 superintendent.

A group of four students, who Shields said were working in small groups after the lesson, say the teacher asked them about the Emancipation Proclamation and referred to them as African-American.

The students told media outlets that they asked the teacher not to call them African-American because they aren't from Africa, with one girl saying she is actually Jamaican.

One student, Mea Thompson, told ABC 7 Chicago the teacher used the racial epithet to say that's what they would have been called in the Civil War days.

"We told her that's not right to use today or back then it wasn't right, either," Mea said. "And she said, 'Well, what do you want me to call you then, slaves?'"

The students said they were shocked and saddened by the exchange and reported it to school officials right away, who began investigating.

"The students were offended by the conversation, and we applaud them. We were very proud of them that they reported the information to the principal," Shields said.

School officials interviewed the teacher, who gave a similar version of events and said she was using the word in historical context.

Regardless, Shields said the lesson was about the Cold War and she attempted to teach curriculum outside of the lesson.

"This person talked on a topic and didn't have sensitivity training," Shields said. "Though she may have been an expert in that particular (historical) era, she did not use the best judgment."

A letter went out to parents last week discussing the situation. On Friday, Shields said he met with the four students and their parents and had a positive discussion.

In addition to the substitute never teaching at Jay Stream again, some of the parents felt the teacher, who was not identified, should apologize to the students, Shields said. Because substitute teachers are not bound by contract to the district, there isn't any way to make her do so, he said.

One parent also said she planned to talk to police about investigating the potential for hate crime charges.

Carol Stream police Tuesday night directed any questions about the situation back to the school district.

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