‘Welcome Back, Darky’: Florida Middle School Teacher Who Allegedly Used N-word Openly In Class and Degraded Black Student Escapes Punishment

The Tallahassee Classic School in Florida was founded in 2020 as a tuition-free charter school with a vision to “develop exemplary citizens that are virtuous, thoughtful, articulate, and possess a life-long passion for learning,” according to the school’s website.

But three years later, in 2023, it became the center of controversy after a parent complained their child was shown a photo of Michelangelo’s statue David, calling it pornographic because it depicts the Biblical figure in the nude, leading to the forced resignation of the school’s principal, Hope Carresquilla.

Now, just one year later, Carrasquilla’s replacement, Cara Wynn, was also forced to resign on June 10, according to the Tallahassee Democrat, which states the “circumstances leading to Wynn’s forced resignation are unknown.”

Florida Middle School Teacher Who Allegedly Used N-word Openly In Class and Degraded Black Student Escapes Punishment
Steven Aggelis is accused of using racial slurs in the classroom while he worked at Tallahassee Classic School in Florida. (Photo: Getty Images/Tallahassee Classic School)

But the principal’s forced resignation came less than two weeks after a lawsuit was filed against the school, accusing the school of harboring a racist teacher who would openly use the N-word in class and also addressed a Black child as “Darky.”

The lawsuit was filed on May 29, 2023, by the child’s mother, Adrian Stanley, on behalf of her son, who is only referred to by the initials “N.M.” and refers to the period before Carrasquilla was replaced by Wynn.

According to the lawsuit, the Black child began attending the school from its inauguration in August 2020 as a seventh-grader and displayed “stellar work and behavior as a student” but was “subjected to disparate treatment, different terms, and conditions and was held at a different standard because of his race.”

The lawsuit singles out an English teacher named Steven Aggelis, who would not only openly use the N-word in class but also refer to students as “imbeciles.”

“Welcome Back, Darky”

In February 2022, when N.M. had returned to class after being absent the previous day, Aggelis said, “Welcome back, Darky,” in front of the entire class, the lawsuit states. 

Stanley complained to Carrasquilla, who set up a meeting on March 4, 2022, between the mother, herself, and Aggelis, who admitted to making the racist comments, according to the lawsuit. 

But two months later, in May 2022, Stanley removed her child from the school after the principal failed to discipline Aggelis for his comments.

The school has yet to comment publicly on Aggelis or the lawsuit but his name and photo were still on the school’s faculty page in October 2022, according to screen captures archived on the Wayback Machine, but had been removed by February 2023

And his LinkedIn page says he now works as an English teacher in Gadsen County, which neighbors Leon County in the Florida Panhandle where the Tallahassee Classical School is based.

Non-Discrimination Statement

The Wayback Machine also indicates the school added a “non-discrimination statement” on its home page after the meeting between Carrasquilla, Stanley and Aggelis, because it was not there on Feb. 1, 2022, but appears on screen captures beginning on March 27, 2022, in the dropdown menu of its “about us” section as well as on the bottom of the home page.

The non-discrimination statement is in English and Spanish and informs readers that the school is “prohibited from discriminating on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, age and disability and reprisal or retaliation for prior civil rights activity.” The statement also informs readers how to file a complaint with the federal government if they believe their civil rights were violated.

The lawsuit mentions the non-discrimination statement but accuses the school of not abiding by it because it “failed to provide any corrective action” regarding Aggelis’ racist statements.

“Defendant’s failure to discipline Aggelis or assure that he was not going to continue his racism in the classroom towards N.M. caused N.M.’s grades to decline,” the lawsuit states. 

“In May 2022, Plaintiff removed N.M. from Defendant and he was enrolled at Fairview Middle School. The transition from a charter school to a public school has negatively impacted N.M.’s development and education.”

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