• Kernan Middle School teacher accused of using racial slurs, calling students dumb, suspended

    By: Danielle Avitable , Action News Jax

    Updated:

    MORE: Jacksonville teacher accused of using racial slur in conversation with students

    A local middle school teacher has been suspended after being accused of calling students dumb and using racial slurs in his classroom.

    Kernan Middle School teacher David Swinyar was suspended for 10 days without pay for allegedly using the ‘n’ word in his classroom and calling students dumb.

    “There’s no call for that in the classroom or around kids period,” parent Torris Smalls said.

    Action News Jax obtained the investigative report into the teacher’s allegations.

    More than 20 students were witnesses.

    The teacher also faces claims of being aggressive toward students.

    He also allegedly made comments like, “You all should not be dating all these different African-American boys because they are not worth it.”

    “There’s no place for that in the school system,” Smalls said.

    A spokesperson for the school district said Swinyar was at school Wednesday, but not in a classroom.

    And the report also states that Swinyar hasn’t received progressive discipline in the past.

    However, some parents think there should be a harsher punishment from the school district.

    “They should be fired, of course,” parent Richard Yanez said.

    The teacher’s suspension starts Thursday.

    Action News Jax reached out to the school district Wednesday and asked why this wasn’t grounds for termination and received this statement: 

    "Teacher discipline is governed by the collective bargaining agreement (CBA) between the district and the union,  which provides for progressive discipline.  The steps outlined in the CBA include:

    • Step I - Verbal Reprimand
    • Step II - Written Reprimand
    • Step III - Suspension without Pay
    • Step IV - Termination

    While the above progressive steps are followed in administering discipline, more severe acts of misconduct may warrant circumventing the established procedure.  Factors considered in determining what constitutes more severe acts include (but are not limited to) the following:

    Potential harm to the physical or mental wellbeing of a student, or students;  Aggressive behavior and/or use of physical force or use of aggressive force that exceeds what is reasonable to protect self or others from harm; Failure to manage student behavior in class or while on campus; and/or Behavior that impairs the employee’s effectiveness in performing her/his duties, professionalism, and confidence in the eyes of the students and parents/guardians.

    While the employee has not been the subject of a prior investigation, due to the severity of the conduct in the referenced investigation,  several steps in the progressive discipline process were skipped.  The recommendation for a 10-day suspension without pay was approved by the Board on Tuesday, March 6 during the School Board meeting."

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