And Other Notable Allegations Of Racism.
An investigation at Harrisonville High School found that a teacher used a racial slur, made comments about a Black student’s hair and referred to Martin Luther King Day as “Black Privilege Day.”
Three complaints were lodged against John Magoffin, a science teacher with the district since August 2012. The complaints were made by students in three different classes, Duane Martin, an attorney for the district, said during a hearing Tuesday evening.
Magoffin was placed on administrative leave on April 20. He denied using inappropriate language during the hearing at the school, attended by about 100 parents and students.TOP ARTICLES
Each side had the opportunity to provide opening statements and call witnesses.
High school principal Mark Wiegers testified for about two hours, saying that an AP biology student alleged that Magoffin used the n-word during a class conversation about rap music and skin color.
A student in Magoffin’s advisory class said he had an “odd obsession” with her hair, according to Wiegers. Students also claimed that Magoffin made disparaging comments about the Black Lives Matter movement and female students wearing leggings.
In a third incident, Magoffin allegedly called Martin Luther King Day “Black Privilege Day,” and said racism does not exist in the U.S. during a physics class.
Throughout the course of the school administration’s investigation, Wiegers interviewed several students who corroborated the allegations. However, some students said they did not recall Magoffin making offensive comments.
The school’s investigation concluded that Magoffin had used inappropriate language.
Magoffin’s attorney Jean Lamfers cross-examined Wiegers, and asked him if “To Kill a Mockingbird,” which includes the n-word, was approved curriculum.
Wiegers said it was, but that it was used in the context of a literature class as a historical book which was “totally different” than the word being used in a conversation about rap music in a biology class.
Lamfers said her client was discouraging the use of the n-word and that teenagers may exaggerate their claims.
Six students testified that Magoffin used inappropriate language in their classes.
About 4.5 hours into the hearing, Magoffin was sworn in and denied using racist language. He said questions about race came up during a lesson on genetics and a student asked about how to refer to other races.
Magoffin said he did not use the n-word.
“I genuinely have a hard time with that word,” he said. He also said he had no recollection of calling MLK Day “Black Privilege Day,” and denied the other claims made against him.
Shortly after midnight, the Board of Education announced it would continue the hearing despite objections from Lamfers.
Once both sides rest, the board will go into a closed session and make a determination on Magoffin’s employment.
Parents say science teacher in Kansas City suburb used racial slur in class
BY KATIE MOOREMAY 12, 2021 02:43 PM, UPDATED MAY 13, 2021 06:55 PM
A Harrisonville teacher allegedly used a racist slur during a class, concerned parents said.
A high school student reported to administration that a teacher used the n-word, according to a public social media post made by Jennifer Beavers, who is the parent of a student and a district employee.
“I implore parents of Harrisonville students and in our community to demand that action be taken and taken, swiftly,” she posted, adding that the incident took place a few weeks ago. “That we will not tolerate having a teacher use language that is that of a racist.”
The post said John Magoffin, listed in the school directory as a science teacher, had “made a hostile environment out of a classroom.” The Facebook post indicated he was not currently teaching after the alleged incident.
In a statement Wednesday night, an attorney for Magoffin said allegations that the teacher “made a racially discriminatory comment directed at anyone” are untrue. Attorney Jean Lamfers said Magoffin denies using the six-letter slur.
“Any allegations that he made a racially discriminatory comment directed at anyone is patently false and potentially defamatory. It is up to the school district to investigate claims of discrimination, including comments on social media that concern its personnel,” the statement continued.
The statement added that Magoffin “has been willing to answer student concerns about sensitive cultural and societal issues that affect them, while posing open ended questions to students that encourage them to do further research for themselves.”
In an email sent to parents Tuesday, Harrisonville High School principal Mark Wiegers said officials had received several questions about a “personnel issue.”
“We take all reports of misconduct or wrongdoing seriously and our first steps are always to ensure the safety and well-being of our students,” he wrote in the email.
The email said when the school receives complaints, it will investigate but is “limited on the information we can provide during or at the conclusion of an investigation.”
Beavers could not be immediately reached.
Harrisonville School District spokeswoman Jill Filer said a high school staff member was placed on administrative leave April 20 “due to an alleged violation of board policy,” and will remain on leave until the investigation is complete. When asked about the alleged incident, she referred The Star to the email sent to parents.
Emails to each of the seven school board members requesting a comment have not not been returned.
Christie Mangan, whose daughter goes to the high school, said she believes the teacher should be fired.
“Our community is becoming more and more beautifully diverse, and it makes me sad to think that we have kids going to school here who don’t feel safe in general, but especially in a classroom with a teacher who feels comfortable to say that type of thing,” she said.
Mangan said she understood that the district couldn’t comment on the investigation, but questioned why officials have not made an effort to denounce racism and discrimination.
OLATHE COACH FIRED FOR RACIAL SLUR
Concerned parents in Harrisonville pointed to recent actions taken by the Olathe school board.
Last Thursday, Olathe North High School baseball coach Pete Flood allegedly said the n-word.
Tony Banks said his son, a senior and the only Black player on the team was playing rap music through speakers during batting practice.
Banks said Flood walked up to his son and told him, “We don’t play that N—– music over here. We only play country and rock music.”
Flood was placed on administrative leave on Friday and fired on Monday.
He admitted he used the slur, but claimed it was not directed toward a student.
Harrisonville teacher accused of using racial slur requests public school board hearing
BY KATIE MOOREJUNE 14, 2021 12:17 PM
A Harrisonville high school teacher accused of using racist language in the classroom will appear at a public hearing Tuesday.
A high school student reported to administration that the teacher used the n-word, according to a public social media post made May 10 by Jennifer Beavers, who is the parent of a student and a district employee.
The post said John Magoffin, listed in the school directory as a science teacher, had “made a hostile environment out of a classroom.
Harrisonville school district spokeswoman Jill Filer confirmed last month that a high school staff member was placed on administrative leave April 20 for allegedly violating school board policy.
When a complaint is made, administrators conduct an investigation and if action is needed, the superintendent makes a recommendation or presents a statement of charges. Tenured teachers can resign or request a public hearing.
The hearing will take place at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday at Harrisonville High School.
Filer said Monday that the teacher had requested a public hearing. Each side is expected to present their cases and may call witnesses. The board of education acts similarly to a jury with the board president acting as the judge. The board goes into a closed session to make a decision.
Magoffin’s attorney Jean Lamfers did not return a call requesting comment. In a previous statement, Lamfers said allegations that Magoffin “made a racially discriminatory comment directed at anyone” were untrue and denied that Magoffin used the racial epithet in question.Play VideoDuration 0:57Olathe baseball coach fired for using racial slurOlathe North High School’s head baseball coach, Pete Flood, was fired May 10, 2021, after he said a racial slur in front of students.