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7363: Madeira teacher quits over racial harassment (fwd)

From: nozier <nozier@tradewind.net>

Madeira teacher quits over racial harassment
Claims school didn't fully investigation BY SARA J. BENNETT
The Cincinnati Enquirer
MADEIRA — The voice recorded on French teacher Jean-Robert Cadet's
school voice mail is a sinister male whisper. “You little n-----,” the
voice says.The message is one of several Mr. Cadet says he received in
the past six months. The Haitian-born teacher has resigned after four
years at Madeira's junior-senior high school. He claims the school
district didn't vigorously investigate his complaints of harassment, as
well as racial epithets written on his blackboard.
Administrators disagree.
Racial harassment isn't tolerated at Madeira, Superintendent Michele
Hummel said. The district used zero-tolerance policy, which bans any
type of intimidation, to punish a student who made a joke bomb threat
last year.Madeira officials said they didn't know about the voicemails
until Mr. Cadet's resigna tion last week. They are working with police
to trace the latest message, Dr. Hummel said. And if other teachers or
students have been intimidated at school because of race, they should
come forward so the district can address the problem. But Mr. Cadet, 45,
who is nationally known for writing a book about his experiences as a
child slave in Haiti, says more should have been done before he
resigned. And students say he'll be missed. “He was my favorite
teacher,” said Ronit Cohen, a 15-year-old sophomore who said she had
heard some students call Mr. Cadet names. “There's a lot of teachers who
care, but he cared a lot,” she said. “I'm really disappointed that he
left.”In a district of 1,500 students, only 2 percent to 3 percent are
minorities, Dr. Hummel said. The same percentage applies to the
district's 106 teachers. The district tries to teach students about
diversity, not just among races, but among religions and people with
physical disabilities, Dr. Hummel said. Still, Mr. Cadet said some
students have made race an issue since he started teaching history and
French at
Madeira in 1996. The harassment escalated this year, he said. Racial
epithets were written on his blackboard. Mr. Cadet also claims students
told him to go back to Africa. He says he heard minority students called
names as well. When he spoke to administrators about his blackboard,Mr.
Cadet said he was told to lock his classroom door. He said the students
he accused of calling him names went undisciplined. “If the
administration takes no action, they are condoning this behavior,” Mr.
Cadet said. Administrators said they investigated Mr. Cadet's complaints
about disrespectful treatment from students and the slurs on his
blackboard but could not identify a culprit.
Dr. Hummel said she told Mr. Cadet to lock his door because the number
of students in the hallways during lunch and passing periods made it
difficult to catch someone going into his classroom. The district is
working with police and the telephone company to trace the single voice
mail message that Mr.Cadet preserved.
Investigators determined that it was phoned in on a Saturday afternoon,
Feb. 19, said
school Principal Christopher Mate. “This is not right, and it needs to
be addressed,” Dr.
Hummel said of the racist messages. She added that she recalled no
similar harassment in
her five years with the district. “I've never had a minority student
come and raise an issue,
and I've never had a minority parent raise an issue,” she said. “Do I
believe that isolated
incidents happen? Yes, I do, but nobody felt it was so pervasive that
they contacted me.”
Thomas and Sally Cuni, parents of one of Mr. Cadet's students, said they
plan to send a
letter asking the superintendent and school board members for an
explanation. Mr. Cuni
said administrators should have told the student body that racial
harassment will not be
tolerated. “There's just a crying need to step forward and do
something,” he said. Pat
Gentile, president of Madeira's school board, said the district will
investigate fully. “We
have all types of harassment policies and intolerance policies, and
that's one thing we
take very seriously,” he said. “We're not a community that buries their
head in anything. We deal with things, and we intend to deal with this
as well.”
Ronit Cohen said Mr. Mate spoke with students on day to answer questions
about Mr. Cadet's resignation. Ruth Cohen, Ronit's mother, also said she
spoke with administrators and is certain that any racial problems at
Madeira will be addressed. “I feel confident the
administration is paying attention to this and is going to deal with it
in a confident and
thorough manner,” she said. Meanwhile, Mr. Cadet plans to substitute
teach in another
district and work on new translations of his book. A substitute will
teach his class for the rest of the school year. “I'm sad (about
leaving),” Mr. Cadet said. “I don't want to go to a job where I'm paid
to listen to "nigger.It's time for the students and administration at
Madeira to open their eyes to diversity.Society is not a reflection of

Mr. Cadet wrote a 1998 book, Restavec: From Haitian Slave Child to
American, about his childhood as a poor child given to a wealthy family
as a servant in
hopes that he would have a better life.Restavec is a Haitian Creole term
that means
“staying with.” His wife is a teacher at Madeira High School and his
stepdaughter is a
student there. Both are white and have not been harassed, he said.