Education

S. Florida Teacher Suspended for Derogatory Statements towards Haitian Students

POMPANO BEACH , USA (defend.ht) - Broward County, Florida public school teacher Leslie Rainer of Blanche Ely High School is being investigated for the third time by the school board for derogatory language used against her students.

The South Florida Sun-Sentinel is reporting that Rainer is accused of referring to one of her Haitian students as “little chocolate boy,” and a “chocolate that nobody wanted.”

Rainer's argument as reported in the Sun-Sentinel is to say that her use of “chocolate” was taken out of context. She said “chocolate” is an endearment in the black community. She said her husband, the Rev. Willie Rainer of Hopewell Missionary Baptist Church in Pompano Beach, calls her “Sweet Chocolate.”

Rainer has an alarmingly long history of insensitive and offensive remarks.

On the YoungTurks

In March 2010, as students discussed the devastating earthquake in Haiti, Rainier allegedly explained to her class that Haiti was suffering because the country made a pact with the devil, echoing an incredibly offensive remark that made national headlines when Pat Robertson first said it on his weekly television program.

To emphasize the point, Rainer reportedly instructed another Haitian student to stand by classroom trash cans because, she said, “that’s where they belong,” according to the formal complaint filed against Rainer last month.

Another teacher, who is an avowed atheist at the same Broward County public school, alleges that Rainer and another teacher proceeded to sprinkle what they described as holy water on her when she discussed her disbelief in God.

That incident was reported to the Broward School District’s Professional Standards & Special Investigative Unit, but charges were ultimately dropped after local churches—including the one where her husband is a reverend—pressured the district.

At the School Board Hearing

Rainer said the whole situation is a misunderstanding, and she thinks it stems from a vendetta against her.

"I'm a very stable person. I'm professional," she told the school board. "I know my role as a teacher in Broward County. I know my role in the community."

"I have not done anything wrong," she said afterward.

According to the complaint, the incident happened on May 6, 2011, when Rainer pointed a pointer at the student's face "in a threatening manner" and said "look little chocolate boy."

Rainer also told the student he was "chocolate that nobody wanted," and warned him "you got one time, chocolate," according to the complaint.

The student recorded the incident on video, the complaint said.

According to the complaint, Rainer's conduct constitutes misconduct and violates the code of ethics of the education profession.

Rainer claims that the schools investigative unit did an investigation and cleared her, which goes against the petition the superintendent signed to have her suspended for three days.

Asked if she insulted the boy, the teacher replied, "No, I did not."

"It's been proven through SIU that I did not insult any Haitian. It was a thorough investigation," she said. "I did not say anything, and the kid is not a Haitian student. He's American. He's my husband's relative."

Rainer will still have a job teaching in Broward County’s public school system. The district superintendent is recommending a three day suspension without pay and attendance at a diversity training course, after which she will presumably resume her teaching duties.

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