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Holy Name Catholic School teacher under scrutiny after saying racial slur

The teacher said the racial slur while reading from a book
Posted at 6:52 PM, Feb 18, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-18 19:53:45-05

OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — A teacher at Holy Name Catholic School in North Omaha is facing scrutiny after a video surfaced of her saying a racial slur. The teacher, who is white, was reading "Voice of Freedom: Fannie Lou Hamer - Spirit of the Civil Rights Movement" when she came across a racial slur and profanity in the text.

The teacher proceeded to say the word, after issuing a verbal language warning to the class.

In a statement, the CUES school system, which oversees Holy Name, said the video clip was taken out of context to make the lesson seem inflammatory and racist. Tanya Santos, Principal at Holy Name, said the incident is unfortunate and only a small portion of the lesson was viewed by others.

"She actually did an entire, hour-long lesson and had pre-taught how authors use their voice. She had talked about Jim Crow laws during the civil rights movement, the language that was used during that time and all of those things...and the world didn’t get to see those things that she taught," Santos said.

Santos said the teacher meant no harm or malice by her actions and said it was "truly a mistake."

"We are blessed to work in a Catholic school system where we get to see people’s spiritual side and get to call on God to be in the presence of our spaces all the time so we know how this teacher is. She has a history of excellent teaching experiences and relationships with parents," Santos said.

Although school officials say what the teacher did was a mistake, parents said they are disgusted.

In a statement to 3 News Now, a parent, who asked to stay anonymous, said it's not okay and the teacher should have never said the word. The parent questioned why students get suspended for certain behaviors, but a teacher "can belt out words that she, as an adult, knows hurts a specific group of people."

The parent said they are "disheartened to know this choice of words was used in front of kids" and "this must be the end and something must be done."

School officials are planning on having an open discussion with students to address any harm or trauma they may experience that stems from this incident.

The school said that while they do have a diversity committee, they are working to provide extra training for staff.

"We're looking at how we continue to provide training on these cultural competencies to make sure that when teachers are presented with some text that may have some language that was used in a historical time — how to address that issue when it comes up," Santos said.

According to Santos, the teacher will be returning to the classroom.

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