One Jacksonville, Florida middle school teacher became his own national teachable moment after feeding students a hot mess hatred soup. David Swinyar of Kernan Middle School reportedly used the “n”-word in class, made ableist remarks (called students dumb), advised them not to date African Americans “because they are not worth it,” and acted in physically aggressive ways toward students, according to multiple reports.

Duval County sanctioned the public school teacher with an unpaid 10-day suspension after conducting an investigation into his actions and determination that he acted inappropriately in the classroom.

“If your boyfriend says bad things to you and/or treats you wrong, that means that he’s acting like a n—–,” he said, according to a district report.

“There’s no call for that in the classroom or around kids period,” parent Torris Smalls told Action News Jax. Another parent of a Kernan student, Richard Yanez, said Swinyar’s employment should be terminated.

Duval County Schools Superintendent Patricia Willis said Swinyar “will be reassigned to an appropriate district position with no contact with students for the remainder of the year, following his suspension.”

Having been educated in predominantly white Duval County public schools from first through 12th grade, Swinyar’s behavior is unsurprising. It’s inspiring to see that today’s tweens and teens wield a little more power, however. 

Where my peers of color and I commiserated with each other and sometimes told our parents about mistreatment by teachers, today’s students have more technology and broader networks at their disposal. Through digital connectivity, students, parents and community members can monitor Swinyar’s corrective action and similar misdeeds by other teachers.

Of course, decency should not be too high a threshold for educators. But if it is, hitting their paychecks and shunning their misbehavior might encourage them to teach substance—instead of racism and ableism—like the taxpayers who made their careers possible expect.


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