High School teacher fired after yelling N-word at student

Teacher John Donovan was terminated by the Kankakee School Board on Monday after the release of multiple videos recorded by students.

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A high school math teacher in Illinois has been fired after being recorded calling a 15-year-old Black student the N-word, weeks after allegedly throwing a book at the student’s leg.

John Donovan was terminated by unanimous vote during a Kankakee School Board meeting on Monday after multiple videos recorded by other students showed him calling a Black student a “f*****g n****r” during an in-class argument on Oct. 20, CNN reported.

The teen, who remains unnamed in the report, is heard in the video questioning Donovan about reportedly throwing a book at his leg after ordering him to leave the classroom for being on his cell phone in September.

During the alleged September incident, the book thrown by Donovan, a first-year teacher, made contact with the teen’s leg after he got up to leave without taking his books with him, per the outlet.

(Getty Images)

Video footage of the recent confrontation shows the student begin to leave the room, as Donovan is heard calling him the slur. As laughter is heard from the classroom, Donovan shrugs and declares, “I’m losing my job anyway,” as reported by CNN.

Kankakee School District Superintendent Dr. Genevra Walters told the outlet that the recorded argument was the first time she, the school’s principal, and its human resources department had been alerted to the book incident. She added that the district does “not have any information that the book made contact with the student.”

The student, however, told CNN that he reported the book incident to administrators “multiple times” and that there were no prior incidents between him and the teacher.

The teen’s mother, Geraldine Nelson, told the outlet she received a voicemail from Kankakee High School’s assistant principal following the book incident in September assuring her that Donovan would apologize. 

Walters told the outlet she is unaware whether or not a voicemail was left, but confirmed that the assistant principal shared the student’s report with Nelson.

“There’s no excuse for saying that word, especially to a 15-year-old,” Nelson told CNN affiliate WBBM. 

Attorney Kevin O’Connor, who is representing the family, told the outlet he is collecting information about both incidents and referring the encounters to local prosecutors for potential criminal investigation.

“If a teacher is willing to … throw something at a student, who knows what they’re willing to do,” he told CNN.

The video of Donovan calling the teen the slur, which circulated on social media, was met with both local and national outrage as well as calls for the teacher to be terminated immediately, per the outlet.

After learning of the video, campus staff escorted Donovan off of school property. He was placed on paid leave as the district conducted a multi-week investigation that Walters told CNN was necessary to provide both Donovan and the student their due process.

Nelson told the outlet that her son has returned to in-person classes at the school as he continues processing the incident. She says she is considering enrolling him in online classes in the future.

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