A teacher and girls basketball coach at a middle school in a small northern Indiana city has been sacked from the coaching part of her job because she instructed players not to “act black” and described players from another area team as “ghetto.”
The site of the fracas is North Side Middle School in Elkhart, Ind., reports The Elkhart Truth.
The teacher and coach is Vicki Rogers, a 30-year veteran of the school district.
Rogers allegedly made the statements as she was speaking to the middle school players before a game back on Jan. 15.
An unidentified parent — all the parents remain unidentified — told the local newspaper that Rogers said, “I don’t care what you think about what I am about to say, but you better not go out there and act black like the ghetto girls at Pierre Moran.”
Pierre Moran refers to Pierre Moran Middle School, another school in Elkhart. The student population at Pierre Moran is 19 percent black, according to GreatSchools.org. North Side Middle School, where Rogers teaches — and coached — is 12 percent black.
School officials suspended Rogers on Jan. 22 after a group of parents had complained.
“There are at least 50 other words she could have used to describe an unruly girl,” one angry parent told The Elkhart Truth. “For this coach to use that word, it really tells me how she feels about race.”
Another parent, whose daughter is black, said she doesn’t want her daughter to be associated with the word “ghetto” or with bad behavior because of the color of her skin.
“That whole idea that the coach put in my daughter’s head is something I can never take back out,” the mad mother said. “She has never identified as ignorant or not well-behaved because she is black.”
School officials noted that Rogers’s wording about acting “black” violates an athletic code of conduct, which states, in part: “Athletes shall be treated with dignity. Coaches shall not use profanity, touch athletes in a negative manner, or make demeaning criticisms to athletes.”
Rogers has expressed regret about her actions. Between the time she made her statements on Jan. 15 and the day she was suspended, Jan. 22, she delivered an emotional apology to the team.
At one point, another coach organized an anonymous vote among players and all but one voted to have Rogers back. However, some parents believe that vote tally was the result of peer pressure felt by players.
Rogers has signaled she wants to continue coaching.
School officials say Rogers may be able to return to her coaching job as soon as she completes a two-hour sensitivity training course.
Schools in the town of Elkhart make national news at an impressive clip.
In December, for example, a teacher at Elkhart’s Concord High School told students to hang signs reading “whites only” and “blacks only” prominently above water fountains and near bathrooms inside the school. The point of hanging the racist signs in the taxpayer-funded school’s hallways was to “demonstrate the feel of government-sanctioned segregation that previously existed in portions of our country.” (RELATED: Public High School Teacher’s Assignment: Post ‘WHITES ONLY,’ ‘BLACKS ONLY’ Signs All Over Campus)