Social Justice long term sub makes offensive remarks, uses N-word in class


Allison Cavanagh

The Social Justice class lost their long-term sub the third week of school after she used the N-word in class.

Sami Tripasuri, co-Editor-in-Chief

Less than three weeks into the new school year, Cal High’s long-term substitute teacher in the senior English Social Justice and Community class said the N-word and made other racist and problematic comments, several students said.

Senior Aidan AuYeung, who was present during the class, said the teacher and students were discussing capital punishment and hate crimes as part of their lesson on Aug. 23. The substitute, who is not Black, brought up racial slurs as an example of hate crimes, and in an attempt to discuss the power behind racial slurs, said the N-word, AuYeung said.

“People in the class are freaking out like, ‘What’s going on?’” AuYeung said. “‘Why did she say that?’”

Following the incident, a few students walked out of class while the substitute attempted to resume the class discussion. After the front office was notified that a racial slur was used, administrators immediately reported to the classroom to gauge the situation and talk to the teacher, Principal Demetrius Ball said.

“My initial reaction was, why? Why is a term like that being used in class?” Ball said. “There’s got to be more to the story.”

Ball said he discussed the incident with the teacher and other staff, while also looking at past experiences that he had, before coming to the collective decision to dismiss the substitute teacher.

“We need to understand how powerful our words are,” Ball said. “My thought process is really wanting to make an appropriate decision to make sure that the staff member and most importantly the students that are impacted are taken care of.”

Senior Jessie Garcia, who was also present during the class, believed the actions taken by the administration team were important to preserving the classroom environment.

“We’re not educating our teachers enough,” Garcia said. “I don’t think anyone could have respect for her after she said that.”

Garcia said her class is struggling with the repercussions caused by these actions as she sees a divide between the students in her class. 

She had the original English Social Justice and Community teacher Eghosa Hamilton last year and expected to return to the same positive classroom energy. Hamilton is out on maternity leave until second semester, Ball said.

“I was hoping to get that type of environment again, and instead [I] got people that are now divided into thinking she [the substitute teacher] was in the wrong and thinking she was right,” Garcia said.

English curriculum leaders Regina Lyon and Anatoly Alexeeff are overseeing lesson plans and assignments for the class in order to make sure they are appropriate for a substitute teacher to teach. A new long-term substitute teacher began teaching the class on Thursday.

Students are adjusting to a new substitute and curriculum that they did not necessarily sign up for. 

“Anything that offends someone whether it affects them as individuals or a group based on their race, class, gender, or sexuality is intolerable,” Ball said. “We have to address them directly and head on with every type of discipline that goes along with those things in their [students] education.”