Those are the racially insensitive words that were allegedly uttered by Fairfield Freshman School science teacher Gil Voigt, in response to a young African-American male student who told Voigt that he wanted to be president someday.
After complaints from students and parents, Voigt, who is white, was suspended without pay on Monday while officials at the school and the Fairfield School Board further investigate the Dec. 3 incident.
Voigt is also facing permanent termination depending on the outcome of the school’s investigation and he has been granted 10 days to request a hearing before the school board.
Board president Dan Murray said he was disappointed when he heard of the allegations and said Fairfield schools take pride in their diversity and tolerance.
“He was talking to some students and said some things that were racially insensitive,” Murray said. “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.”
Assistant Superintendent Roger Martin said he was more surprised because these incidents of that type usually don’t happen at the Fairfield school.
“This is a rare occurrence,” Martin said. “This is the first time I’ve faced it since being named superintendent [in 2011].”
In his own report, Martin confirmed that all four of the students who were interviewed had stories that corroborated with the allegations that Voigt told one of his students that the U.S. didn’t need another Black president.
While the allegations were surprising to Martin, it is not the first time Voigt has been in trouble with the school board.
He received a verbal warning in 2008 for making another racially insensitive comment, and received another warning the same year for improper use of school technology although there is no record to specify what exactly he used the school’s technology for.
Last year he received another verbal warning for belittling a student and calling him “stupid.”
A written warning was issued last month after he failed to use the school’s adopted curriculum that some students and parents fear could have a long-term impact on students’ academic progress moving forward.
The African-American teen who Voigt was talking to has been removed from his class, but only time will tell if Voigt will be able to return to his teaching position at the school.
“We intend to uphold board policies and to hold teachers accountable for the essential functions of the teacher job description,” Martin said.
Several other accusations have been made against Voigt throughout the last academic school year, including violations of staff ethics, staff-student relations and harassment.
According to Voigt, he has merely been misquoted by the student who he claimed was not a good student and was very troublesome in his class.