The Duval County School Board’s decision this week to suspend a Kernan Middle School teacher accused of using a racial slur in his classroom has drawn the ire of the local NAACP as the case has attracted national media attention.
The Board approved the 10-day suspension without pay for teacher David Swinyar on Tuesday after launching an investigation on Oct. 6, 2017, after a parent reported to the principal that Swinyar used the "n" word while referring to some students.
According to the district's disciplinary report:
Mr. Swinyar exercised poor judgment when he engaged in inappropriate communications in the presence of, and/or toward students, by using the “n” word in a conversation with students and/or when he referred to a student. He also made other inappropriate comments such as: “You are in my class because you failed the FSA,” “You all should not be dating all these different African-American boys because they are not worth it,” and calling students “dumb."
Swinyar was also accused by students of viewing porn in his classroom. However, the district's investigation found no evidence to corroborate that. The report notes Swinyar has neither been the subject of a prior investigation nor has he previously received progressive discipline.
In a letter to the superintendent, Jacksonville NAACP President Isaiah Rumlin complained the suspension is too light a punishment and urged for Swinyar to be summarily dismissed.
But Chair Paula Wright says the Board accomplished the immediate goal of removing him from the classroom without violating his right to due process.
“And I believe the board voted because we understood that was the best way to make certain we weren’t liable in terms of a lawsuit. But that was the quickest and best appropriate process to ensure that he was not in front of students,” Wright told WJCT News.
Wright said the teacher could be assigned a number of jobs that don’t involve students. Plus, she said, his contract with the district will expire June 30, and the Board will be considering all contract renewals in May.
Swinyar, she said, is appealing his suspension.