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Email shows Decatur High principal denied report of teacher using racist slur in class

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Email shows Decatur High principal denied report of teacher using racist slur in class

Decatur High School Principal Rochelle Lofstrand speaks during the Decatur High School Army JROTC 20th annual September 11 Remembrance Ceremony on Thursday, Sept. 9. Photo by Dean Hesse.

Decatur, GA — City Schools of Decatur this week reassigned Decatur High Principal Rochelle Lofstrand and the teacher accused of using a racial slur while the district’s contractor, Courtlandt Butts, evaluates CSD’s response to the incident.

The Decatur High students have pushed for more accountability for the teacher and the school’s administration. Students held a walkout on Dec. 16 and a community town hall soon after.

An email shared with Decaturish shows that Lofstrand denied the incident occurred when a parent asked her about it.

On Dec. 9, a parent emailed Lofstrand. The parent wrote, “I heard there was an incident, captured on video, with a white male teacher using a slur in a Freshman science class.”

Lofstrand responded within minutes.

“Racial equity is very important to me and the students and staff at DHS,” Lofstrand wrote back. “I take all situations involving harm to students and/or staff seriously. The rumor you heard is not accurate.”

Lofstrand did not respond to a message from Decaturish sent on Jan. 5 about her reassignment. On Jan. 6, she was asked to provide more information about the Dec. 9 email. This story will be updated if she responds.

The parent shared her exchange with Lofstrand with community leaders on Dec. 23.

Phil Cuffey, co-chair of the Beacon Hill Black Alliance for Human Rights, asked for Lofstrand to be reassigned following a recent controversy involving a teacher using a racial slur. In an email to Superintendent Maggie Fehrman on Jan. 2, he cited Lofstrand’s response to the parent as a reason the district should reassign Lofstrand. He told Fehrman that Lofstrand’s response “denies the truth.”

“It underscores the uncertainty expressed by students and community members at the town hall about why this issue is being taken lightly by the administration,” Cuffey said. “The light consequences for the teacher, and an unacceptable apology, add to this perception, which is reality for many. In addition to the missteps in investigating, reporting and processing this incident, you mentioned at our previous meeting, this response undermines the educators and community trust in the high school leadership. We question if the damage done is recoverable without a change in leadership. It is our expectation that accountability and consequences starting from suspension up to reassignment apply at the high school leadership level is achieved.”

City Schools of Decatur has appointed Duane Sprull as the interim principal at Decatur High School while it completes its review.

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