Brighton teacher accused of using racial slur in class

Local News

BRIGHTON, N.Y. (WROC) — A Brighton teacher is up against accusations from a student that he used a racial slur several times in class. On Thursday morning, a public hearing continued to figure out what happened.

Jim Quinlisk is a tenth-grade English teacher at Brighton High School. According to testimony, last school year Quinlisk was teaching Macbeth. A student was reading aloud and came across a word that sounds similar to a racial slur. Quinlisk stopped the reading and opened up a discussion.

According to testimony, he told the class the word comes from the same roots as the racial slur, and they shouldn’t let it have power over them. He allegedly said the racial slur multiple times during the discussion.

A professor from St. John Fisher College testified, and said the word does not have the same roots. She said Quinlisk taught it wrong.

Patrick Rogers is Quinlisk’s friend of 40 years. He said Quinlisk could’ve handled the situation differently, but he doesn’t think Quinlisk meant to hurt anyone.

“If the use of the word was used, I think you should try to avoid it or let it be brought up perhaps by the student. But when a word gets paused upon when reading Macbeth and the subject comes up, none of us were there to know how that developed,” said Rogers.

One student in the class, referred to as “student A”, and her mother complained to the school assistant principal. The student said she was uncomfortable and didn’t want to be in Quinlisk’s class anymore. The assistant principal testified and said the student was removed from the class. She also said no other students complained about the incident.

The district said they can’t comment on what could happen after these hearings are over because this is a personnel matter. They also can’t comment if the teacher will be returning to work when school starts back up next week.

The defense will call their witnesses on September 10.

The district did tell us these hearings are usually private but the teacher requested this one be open to the public.

The district said this about the hearing in a statement:

“Much like a trial that is open to the public, this is a hearing as a result of charges adopted by the board of education that is being held in public, but not with the public.”

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