Pompano Teacher Facing Suspension Over 'Chocolate Boy' Comment

Teacher called student 'little chocolate boy': Complaint

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    NEWSLETTERS

    A Pompano Beach high school teacher is in hot water after she allegedly called a student "little chocolate boy."

    A Pompano Beach high school teacher who's previously faced discipline for inappropriate conduct towards students is once again in hot water after she allegedly called a student "little chocolate boy," according to an administrative complaint.

    Leslie Rainer, a teacher at Blanche Ely High School, is facing suspension over the comments allegedly made last May, according to the Broward School Board complaint.

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    Rainer attended a meeting before the school board Tuesday, where Superintendent of Schools Robert Runcie postponed making a decision on whether to recommend a three-day suspension without pay and require her to attend diversity training. Runcie deferred the decision to study the case.

    Meanwhile, 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 told NBC Miami 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 maintained that the whole thing is "a misunderstanding from the principal."

    Last week, Rainer denied making some of the comments and said the "chocolate" comments were taken out of context, saying she was referring to a candy bar on her desk.

    "I have never, nor will I ever, offend a child. I have nothing against Haitians, Italians or whoever else," Rainer told the Sun-Sentinel. "This is a made-up, false accusation."

    Calls to Rainer's attorney Tuesday weren't immediately returned.

    According to the complaint, Rainer "has had a history of inappropriate conduct towards her part-Haitian, minority descent students."

    Rainer came under fire in 2008, when she told a student "I wish they would put you in a boat and send you back where you came from," according to the complaint.

    Less than two years later, Rainer and fellow teacher Djuna Robinson were accused of dousing a colleague with hold water in a disagreement over religious views. Though both teachers denied the accusations, they were reassigned. After they were cleared in a criminal investigation, they were reinstated.

    Rainer was counseled for both incidents, according to the complaint.

    Jean-Robert La Fortune, an activist with the Haitian-American Grassroots Coalition, said his own daughter had derogatory statements made about her when she was in school 15 years ago, so he knows what this feels like.

    “We must move beyond suspension," he told the school board. "If you allow that instructor to remain in the classroom, she is risky business."