BRIGHTON, N.Y. (WROC) — A Brighton High School teacher will keep his job after facing accusations last fall that he used a racial slur in front of students, following a ruling by the State of New York, State Education Department Division of Employer-Employee Relations.
Jim Quinlisk, a tenth grade English teacher, was guilty of five of the six internal charges he was facing in connection to the incident, and according to court paperwork, termination of employment is “not the appropriate penalty in this case.”
Quinlisk was suspended with pay for the the first semester of the 2019-2020 school year, and was ordered to pay a fine of $5,000. He returned to teaching in January.
According to testimony last August, the incident occurred in December 2018 when a student was reading Macbeth in class. The student came across a word, which sounds like a racial slur when pronounced.
Quinlisk said he could tell the student was hesitant, so he stopped to explain the words aren’t the same. The word in question means stingy, or not forthcoming.
Quinlisk said he then told the students we have a choice to let words have power over us or we can take power over them. In the explanation, he said the racial slur.
A student in the class was offended by his use of the word and was removed from his class. In testimony, that student said he used the slur multiple times. Quinlisk said he only used it once.
The student in the class, referred to as “student A”, and her mother complained to the school’s assistant principal. The assistant principal said no other students complained about the incident.
“I felt bad about the student who felt upset I wanted to talk to that student and that student’s parents to see if I could clarify, I was not allowed to do that. So when people have stated, ‘why haven’t you apologized?’ I’m thinking, ‘I don’t think I did anything wrong,'” Quinlisk said about the incident.
Quinlisk said this whole experience has shown him how much support he has around him. He said he’s not bitter and is trying to focus on what’s important which he said is his students. He’s back at work now and said he’s not bitter.
“Being back at school the difficulty is I have to deal with people who were trying to get me fired for lack of a better word but what I can do and what I will do is focus on what’s important and the students are what’s important.”
Here were the the charges Quinlisk faced and the results:
Charge 1: Use of inappropriate language — guilty
Charge 2: Improper interaction with a student — guilty
Charge 3: Failure to properly assess students for AP courses — guilty
Charge 4: Improper interaction with students — guilty
Charge 5: REDACTED — not guilty
Charge 6: Failure to properly administer final exam — guilty
The ruling stated that Quinlisk would return to continue his teaching duties at the beginning of the second semester of the school year, which he did on January 27 of this year, after being suspended with pay last fall.
Check back with News 8 WROC as we will continue to update this developing story.