Spokane high school students call out teacher for using the N-word in class

Hallway at Shadle Park High School
Elenee Dao. Copyright 4 News Now

SPOKANE, Wash. — A Spokane Public Schools teacher used a racial slur in class and tried to justify its use because of the way she said it.

During an advisory lesson at Shadle Park High School, teacher Sarah Jane O’Regan used the N-word.

Right after this happened, a student started recording.

“I guess she was just like, giving examples of what she was hearing and she used it in a sentence,” this student told 4 News Now.

In the video, you can hear the students react by saying, “No, you can’t say that. You said it. It was needless to say.

O’Regan can be heard trying to justify it to a student who is late to class.

“Because I said it with a soft N, like the way you greet. And they were all offended,” O’Regan said. “But, I didn’t use the hard R.”

Kiantha Duncan, Spokane NAACP chapter leader, says you can’t tell. It doesn’t matter how you say it.

“I hear about situations like this all the time. All the time,” Duncan said.

Duncan wants to sit down with O’Regan and have a talk. She wants to find out why O’Regan said that word, what point she was trying to make, and if she could see her mistake.

“I don’t necessarily believe in a cancel culture, so I would say cancel would not be my first course of action,” Duncan said.

Shadle Park mom thinks too much. Her daughter was there when O’Regan used the insult.

“I was immediately angry. I think she has to go,” the mother said.

After receiving the video, 4 News Now contacted Spokane Public Schools. A spokesperson said the district is aware of the incident, takes reports of this nature very seriously, and will continue to investigate. While she can’t speak specifically to this teacher, the district’s director of diversity training said students and staff received training earlier this year to avoid issues like this.

“Spokane schools do not condone the use of the N-word by staff or students — in relation to staff, even if they are reading text or a student is being disciplined,” said Nicole Jenkins-Rosenkrantz, principal. community relations and diversity training.

Two years ago, SPS passed a resolution on equity. He heard from students, staff and parents that the use of racial slurs was not taken seriously enough and something needed to be done. Now the district is saying words like that shouldn’t be used and it’s non-negotiable policy.

“Instead of going through the panic of not knowing how to fix it and maybe shoving it under the rug, we don’t do it anymore. We face it head-on,” Jenkins-Rosenkrantz said.

If a teacher uses the N-word in class, the district says it will investigate. This could result in termination or mandatory training and education.

In this specific case, the district says it won’t comment on personnel matters.

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