published Monday, January 6th, 2014

Ohio teacher will challenge discipline for black president remark

FAIRFIELD, Ohio — A southwest Ohio teacher says he is challenging allegations that he told a black student who said he wanted to become president that the nation doesn't need another black president.

Teacher Gil Voigt told The Cincinnati Enquirer that he has requested a hearing to defend himself. The Fairfield freshman school teacher was recently suspended without pay, which a school official said was the first step in the termination process.

Voigt told school officials he was misquoted. School officials said that students say the white teacher told the black student who said he wants to be president that "we don't need another black president."

Voigt offered a different version, saying that he had responded to the student: "I think we can't afford another president like (Barack) Obama, whether he's black or white." Voigt explained to school officials in a statement that "there was no way I was trying to indicate the color of his skin had anything to do with his politics."

School officials said a hearing will be scheduled before a labor mediation referee. The district's board president, Dan Murray, said last month that Voigt had crossed the line with "racially insensitive" comments.

Voigt is a former Cincinnati Public Schools teacher who has worked in the northern Cincinnati suburb of Fairfield since 2000. School records show he received a verbal warning in 2008 for an inappropriate racial comment and recently received a written warning for failure to use adopted curriculum.

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