Arizona teacher fired after defending student from racist insults

Arizona teacher fired after defending student from racist insults
An elementary school teacher in Fountain Hills, Arizona, believes she did the right thing when she defended a young black student from racist insults. However, allegations that she was the one doing the bullying caused her to lose her job.

The incident took place at Four Peaks Elementary School back in May 2014, when teacher Pam Aister said she came to the defense of an African-American fourth grader who was being bullied by other students.

"He was called the n-word, 'monkey,' and 'coon,'" Aister told ABC 15 News on Wednesday.

When the teacher of 25 years noticed this was happening, she decided to make clear that the comments would not be tolerated.

"I said [the student] is in my room now, he's not alone any more, and if you're picking on him, you're picking on me," Aister recalled to a local radio show on KTAR News. "It's not five against one, it's five against two, and there will be no more taunting, teasing or racial names."

But while Aister may have thought the situation was resolved as the students nodded their heads and listened as she spoke, the conflict was really only starting to unfold. When the scolded students went home, they said Aister had told them to “shut up” and commented that one student had an “ugly face.”

When the school board at Fountain Hills Unified School District considered the case on Monday, it voted to fire the teacher immediately.

While Aister certainly had her supporters – one of whom held a sign at the school board meeting declaring that the instructor taught children the value of hard work and having respect for other people – other parents agreed with the decision to fire her.

“We are very saddened by the situation but we feel that the board did the right thing,” one parent told ABC 15.

Aister responded by saying she is not sure if she will fight the decision. She did note that the student being bullied had asked to be reassigned to her classroom in order to escape the harassment he was experiencing beforehand.

Meanwhile, two of the boys she said were insulting the African-American student had been removed from her class at the request of their parents.