Black Teacher Who Harassed Haitian Student Deserves More Punishment Than She Got

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Leslie RainerLeslie Rainer is one of those people. You and I both know them. The kind who seem to be always embroiled in some sort of controversy and stay the subject of whispered conversations among their peers. Now the beleaguered Florida educator is making national news after she allegedly told a Haitian student in her class that he “looks [like a] little chocolate boy…a chocolate that nobody wanted.”

The exchange was reportedly caught on video but Rainer vehemently denies the accusations, saying she’s being targeted because some colleagues are still salty over a little stunt she pulled last year when she—wait for it—pretended to throw holy water on an atheist colleague. Awww shucks. That done did it. I’m quite sure she doesn’t have the favor of her co-workers as the wind beneath her wings after that kind of foolish. Boundaries, Leslie, boundaries.   

After review of her case yesterday, the Broward School Board voted 8-1 in favor of a 10-day unpaid suspension, which was originally proposed to be three days but increased by Superintendent Robert Runcie. I appreciate his moxie, but it still doesn’t seem like enough compared to Rainer’s repeat offenses.   

When you 1) put down a kid 2) in front of their fellow students 3) because of their ethnicity, race, or culture, you’re setting yourself up to be on all kinds of hit lists. Now, I wouldn’t be so irked by her comment because, as she pointed out, calling someone “chocolate” is widely perceived as a term of endearment in black America. It’s not necessarily something that a teacher should be calling a student, but it’s not uber offensive, depending on the context and intent behind it. (Except for the fact that she said that he was unwanted, of course, making her excuse null and void.)

Rainer has a track record of bashing Haitian students at Blanche Ely High School in Pompano Beach, which makes her most recent string of remarks the nail in her professional coffin. Prior to this, the 22-year veteran has been reprimanded for telling one kid “I wish they would put you in a boat and send you back [to] where you came from” and ordering another to stand in the corner near a garbage can because “that’s where he belongs.” No, dear. The kid belongs in the classroom. The degree and the certifications are what need to be lining the circular file.  

Parents send their children to school to be enlightened, not abused. A teacher is responsible for the education of their charges, yes, but it goes beyond just doling out facts and handing out pop quizzes. They’re supposed to be spending the 5, 6, sometimes 7 or 8 hours a day they have with these children building them up, encouraging them, motivating them to be their best, not beating them down with the brass knuckles of their bigotry. Rainer’s hangup is hurtful to the students she’s belittled and scarring to the ones on the sidelines, since she wanted to be all public with her put-downs. It’s part of a deeper-rooted issue she—and some other African-Americans—have with Haitians and other “foreigners” from black bloodlines.

There’s been longstanding discrimination against the Haitian community, even within the Black diaspora. Some of us, as a people, seem to have this belief that some countries, some experiences are more valuable than others. And unfortunately, Haitians get caught in the chokehold of that stupid inter-racial discrimination.

But that’s her issue. My concern is with the kids. The section of Florida that’s the backdrop for this whole debacle is teeming with Haitians and people from other parts of the Caribbean and students who stutter and tall, awkward students and obese students and I’m sure some gay and lesbian students, too. And if the educators there or anywhere else don’t have a genuine love for them, no matter what their individual idiosyncrasies are, they don’t have any business making a career out of working with them.

Teachers should teach because they love kids—all kids—not because they need a paycheck. And for that reason, if these allegations are in fact true, Rainer needs to hang it up and move herself to a nice Haitan-free, kid-less new career. She doesn’t need to be suspended. She needs to be fired. Three strikes is more than enough for her to get it together. We shouldn’t need a fourth to put her out.

Is a 10-day suspension enough punishment for Rainer’s remarks?

Image via Candie_N (Will organize photostream eventually)/Flickr

education, in the news, discrimination


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Lesli... Lesliemom2mzjm

IMO, she should be fired.  This isn't a one time thing.  I'm sure she's made other insulting snide remarks and this is just the one where she was caught.  I'm sure she won't change her spots, even if reprimanded.  Teachers need to be mature and they need to be respectful of students and whatever backgrounds they come from, not single out any differences.

mrsjo... mrsjoohee

I can't believe she hasn't been fired yet, I would assume parents would be outraged

nonmember avatar Anon

I would need to know more about how she manages her classroom overall. Honestly, there are some children (of all colors/nationalities) who are just difficult to take, especially in the context of a classroom. Discipline options are so limited that teachers are sometimes backed into a corner where they're damned no matter what they do. ... I agree that the ideal is to never lose your cool around the kids, but even my kids' KG teacher, who has only 9 students, can be heard yelling and sounding intolerant more often than I'd prefer. I don't like it, but I don't walk in her shoes, either.

femal... femaleMIKE

This is an example of black on black racism.  I see it alot with different ethnicities.  I did know that haitians are discriminated against alot.  

We are all the same. 

nonmember avatar Shannon

This is a shame. Teachers and other staff members in Broward County have lost their jobs for less. I agree that she should be suspended until her fate is decided and she is punished, and given that she's been insulting students for a while, she should lose her job over it. I know some people would disagree and think she should be fired immediately, but I believe all people should be afforded the opportunity to have their case examined before they're fired, no matter what profession they're in. And she has no business being at that school ever again, she should be required to transfer if she's allowed to keep her job (which I hope she isn't).

lucky... luckygirlyo

One comment here was semi supportive. I was a teacher. A young, very inexperienced teacher with 30 students in my class. There is no way a child should be talked to this was. Ever. Ever. You do not tell a child, especially ones with issues, that they are unwanted. 3 examples were given in this short article. That child was demeaned publicly. That means firing is necessary. This teacher clearly isn't up to the task. If someone said that to my kid? I would be raising a very big fuss.

2love 2love

She should be fired for her comments. There is no excuse for her behavior and she has probably been mistreating Haitian children for a while. They come to America for refuge and here she is discriminating.

the4m... the4mutts

Sure, be understanding when a teacher snaps at an unruly child. I would probably even be okay if she told him to shut the fuck up. But she INSULTED HIS RACE. Its uncalled for. She aparently has no self control, and needs to look for employment elsewhere.

If she had said this to the principal *for example* I bet she would have been fired on the spot. But an innocent kid, that can't retaliate, she gets to keep working after suspension?


I'm all for freedom of speech, but not in a professional setting where someone, especially a child, feels victimized by your remarks.

Loref... Lorefield

No, she needs to be fired.

I don't care if her students were difficult, there is NO reason to make abusive remarks to them. Also, throwing holy water on someone? That really tells me what kind of person she is, and I would not let her anywhere near my kid for that act alone.

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