A Pasco County, Florida, high school teacher has been placed on administrative leave for allegedly making racialized statements claiming that President-elect Donald Trump will send Black people back to Africa.
The situation initially came to light after parent Donnie Jones Jr. took to Facebook Nov. 9 to vent his outrage over the alleged incident. In a series of posts, Jones wrote that Wesley Chapel High School teacher John Sousa walked up to a group of girls that included his daughter.
Sousa allegedly asked the young women what they were up to and he said “Don’t make me call Donald Trump to get you sent back to Africa” after being unsatisfied with their answer.
Jones wrote that Sousa approached the girls during a period break. “When my child told me that, I didn’t know what to say. I was blown away. I’m not going to lie, I saw RED!”
According WFLA, high school officials acted quickly after Jones brought the incident to their attention. Jones went up to the school the same day as his initial post and Sousa was placed on leave.
“As soon as the school was made aware of the allegations against Mr. Sousa, they called him in and had him leave campus and told him to stay home,” Pasco Co. Schools Spokeswoman Linda Cobbe told WFLA.
However, in a Nov. 10 post, Jones said he called Sousa after a friend provided the number. Jones said the teacher admitted making the comments.
Additionally, Sousa told Jones that he believed his statements were not racist and that he was talking to male and female students not just a group of girls. But Jones and his daughter refuted that claim. Jones’ daughter says Sousa pointed at her and the other Black students when he made the comment. WFLA reported that there is a pending investigation into the post-election incident. The district spokesperson said further punishment could come after the investigation.
“There has been no decision made,” Cobbe said. “There’s some discrepancies in the statements from the students and from him, so they have some discussions to have at that level before making any kind of recommendations for further discipline.”