FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. - The School Board of Broward County voted Monday to suspend a teacher accused of calling an African-American student "dark chocolate, the kind that nobody wants."
The board voted unanimously to suspend Leslie Rainer five days without pay, agreeing with an administrative law judge who reviewed the case.
According to an administrative complaint, the Blanche Ely High School teacher pointed in the student's face and said, "Look, little chocolate boy."
Rainer also told the student that he "was dark chocolate, the kind that nobody wants," and told the student to "shut up."
The student recorded Rainer on video pointing the pointer at him and making the statement, "You got one time, chocolate," before his classmates erupted in laughter.
"He found it offensive," said Carmen Rodriguez, the schools' district attorney. "He found it hurtful and he was so frustrated because he couldn't respond because this was his teacher."
Rainer said she was referring to actual pieces of chocolate on her desk that she hands out as treats during class.
"There is nothing inherently wrong or hurtful in the word itself," said Robert McKee, Rainer's attorney.
McKee tried convincing the school board the word "chocolate" is a term of endearment frequently used between African Americans.
"It was miswritten and misquoted," Rainer told Local 10's Roger Lohse Monday.
"You feel like we exploited you?" asked Lohse.
"I do not want to be on the news," she replied. "I have two children in the school system."
"It's not just one week's worth of pay. This is a career teacher that's got a good record and she doesn't want this on her record that, you know, she embarrassed the student and called him a racial slur when that's just not the way it went down," said McKee.
McKee said he planned on appealing the decision. District administrators originally wanted to suspend Rainer for 10 days without pay.
In 2010, Rainer was re-assigned after another teacher alleged Rainer threw holy water on her because she is an atheist.
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