A video of a teacher calling a student a “N*GGER is currently making its rounds on social media.
Kankakee High School teacher named John Donovan was placed on paid leave after referring to a student as “N*GGER” when the student walked out of the classroom. Donovan is a first-year math teacher at the school, which started in August. The student asked the teacher for an apology for an incident that occurred earlier.
The Kankakee High School District released a statement from Superintendent of Schools, Dr. Geneva A. Walters on its Facebook page about the incident:
We are disappointed with the incident that happened in a classroom at Kankakee High School. A teacher (in a minor conflict with a student) chose to use a racial slur as the student independently exited the classroom.
The teacher has been placed on paid leave pending a full investigation. As of the end of the day today, KHS administrators have collected statements from the students, talked with the students in the classroom, and reviewed several videos. The principal will make a recommendation to the Human Resources Department followed by a recommendation concerning disciplinary action to the Kankakee School District 111 Board of Education. We want to recognize the issues plaguing public education: Mental health/anxiety among students and staff, teacher shortage, and equitable opportunities among students and teachers within the system. The video does not fully capture the work that needs to happen locally, within the state of Illinois, and nationally.
The video is a system of a much larger societal issue. Although this is a disheartening situation for our students, families, and public education, the root of the problem must be addressed systemically.
In light of the circumstances, we are proud of how the students handled the situation. After speaking with the students, the “laughter” heard in the video was “nervous laughter”. The students in the classroom reported that they were shocked and had never experienced a teacher using that terminology toward a student.
Kankakee will continue the work that we started during the 2021-22 school year (following the pandemic) around Diversity, Inclusion, and Equity as well as student/adult wellness.
Another video from a different angle surfaced online today. The two can be seen arguing I’m the video and it appears the argument started because John Donovan allegedly threw a book at the student.