LIMA — Heather Howard, the mother of a Lima West Middle School student is looking for answers after she says her son told her that he was called a derogatory name by a teacher.
The N-word was allegedly used against Aiden Howard, 13, a white student at the school by art teacher William Millmine.
“It’s just not about my son. He directed that towards my son in a classroom where all of my son’s peers are. His classmates. His teammates with the majority of them being African American students,” she said.
Heather Howard and the Rev. Ronald Fails with the Lima NAACP held a news conference Monday afternoon to bring to light the incident and another incident where Aiden Howard was allegedly grabbed from behind by the same teacher after the teacher was trying to break up horseplay between him and another student. Both were said to be disruptive in the class.
Aiden Howard, along with three of his classmates, corroborated the incident occurred.
Lima schools, in a news release, acknowledged, “While there was an incident involving the use of an inappropriate word by a West Middle School teacher, it is not in any way what was reported in a press release sent to the media by the local chapter of the NAACP or at today’s press conference.”
“The principal at West (T.J. Winkler) addressed the incident as soon as it was brought to his attention nearly two weeks after it occurred in February.” The news release goes on to point out that, “The teacher regrettably did use an inappropriate word and that is not acceptable. The Lima City Schools does not condone this kind of language. It is important to point out that the word was not used in a derogatory manner and it was not directed at an African American student. The teacher immediately realized he used poor judgment and should not have said it and apologized.”
As for allegations of physical contact, “Once the parent filed a police report, it was investigated by the School Resource Officer at West. After a thorough investigation, the allegations were not substantiated,” the news release states.
Fails indicated they hope to appeal this to the Ohio State Board of Education.
“It violates the code of ethics that are in place for educators across the State of Ohio. To dismiss that as being insignificant is devaluing and discounting not only of the child that was being addressed but that class has about 80% minority students. That’s a problem,” said Fails.
Reach Sam Shriver at 567-242-0409.