A white theater arts teacher in Texas reportedly resigned from his job after 14 years amid backlash – after he was recorded using a racial slur in class and questioned why there is no ‘white history’ month.
The teacher, Norman Grueneich, was recorded earlier this month using the ‘N’ word and making other offensive remarks at a theater tech class at Klein Collins High School in Spring, Texas, just north of Houston.
He could be heard in the audio recordings, which were later posted to social media, saying: ‘People get really upset, and the tension in the room rises because we’re not allowed to have a difference in opinion.’
A student then asks him: ‘I mean if there’s a word that you’re not supposed to say, why are you saying it?’
‘I don’t know,’ Grueneich replies. ‘Why do guys in my class go, you know, say “Man n*****, you crazy?” Why do they say that? And why is it cause I’m a white guy, I can’t say that? I can’t say the N word.’
Norman Grueneich resigned from his position as a theater teacher after he was recorded using the ‘N’ word in class and asking his students why there isn’t a white history month
He had been a theater teacher at Klein Collins High School for 14 years
The conversation later turns to Grueneich asking why there is a Black History month and not a white history month.
‘Because if I say that you will be like “Oh my gosh, that’s racist, that’s KKK kind of stuff,'” he tells his class in another recording.
‘Do we have Hispanic heritage month?’ he asks, to which one student could be heard tentatively replying: ‘Yeah.’
‘OK, why?’ he asks again. ‘Why? Why? Why do we have a Black History Month.’
At that point, another student could be heard asking Grueneich, whose students call him ‘Mr. G’ if he wants a white history month, as Grueneich continues to ask the students why there is a Black History Month until a third student chimes in: ‘Because of what they’ve been through.’
‘Because of what they’ve been through?’ he spits back, as the recording abruptly ends.
But according to Raw Story, Grueneich then asks: ‘Why don’t we have a white history month talking about what the Irish went through,’ to which a student replies that that would be considered an Irish history month.
The audio clips were posted to social media by Adrian Lopez, who said the incident began when his daughter and her friend were having a private conversation about other students using the offensive term
The audio clips quickly spread through social media, with Nicky D’s writing that he was ‘ashamed to see that’ Klein Collins ‘would rather sweep the racist and hurtful action’ under the rug rather than punish him
The exchange reportedly came earlier this month, after a female student heard some of her colleagues using derogatory terms for African American and homosexual students in her English class.
She then went to her Theater Tech 2 class, and spoke about the incident with her friend, who is black, in a private conversation before the bell rang, the girl’s father, Adrian Lopez, wrote in a Facebook post on Tuesday.
But, he said, Grueneich overhead the conversation and ‘went on a half hour tirade on why those students did nothing wrong.
‘He spoke in an aggressive and demeaning manner to my daughter and her friend,’ said Lopez, who also posted the audio clips of the conversation. ‘This is a grown man in his 50s.
‘So the girls went to the administration to report him,’ Lopez wrote, alleging: ‘The two vice principals they spoke with told them “Not to post the video on social media”‘ and ‘”Let’s keep this small.’
One of the vice principals, Lopez said, told the students: ‘Should he have said that? Probably not, but what if he was teaching a play about civil rights?’
‘She then said: “The word cracker is as offensive”‘ as the N word, Lopez claims, noting that another vice principal told the girls: ‘You will always have to deal with this in life. You may as well get used to it.’
‘The mere fact that a teacher can say disgusting, racist remarks and be backed up by the administration is a resounding failure in this institution to say the least,’ Lopez wrote. ‘It infuriates me that my daughter and her friend went through this.’
He said the incident had happened a week prior, but the administration had failed to act, prompting him to post the audio recordings.
‘I do not want to do this or be involved with this, but I will never allow anyone to cause any sort or harm, disservice or disrespect to any of children,’ Lopez said.
Soon, the recordings were shared widely on social media, with one twitter user, with the username Nicky D’s, writing: ‘As a graduate of Klein Collins, I’m ashamed to see that its administration would rather sweep the racist and hurtful actions of Mr. Grueneich under the rug rather than punish him and support its students.’
‘Do better, Klein Collins.’
Parents claim school administrators failed to act in the wake of the incident, and held a news conference on Wednesday calling on the district to investigate the remarks
By Wednesday, concerned parents and local community activist Quannell X held a news conference calling on the administration to act, according to a video of the news conference posted by KPRC 2 reporter Sabirah Rayford
‘We said, “Look, we’re trying to do this the right way. We don’t want to go to the media,’ said Jamie Olliver, whose daughter recorded the exchange.
‘I don’t want a reaction to my family, to the children of other students, faculty,’ Olliver said. ‘And a whole week later, not even a phone call. No email, nothing.’
At the news conference, X said: ‘Mr. G, your words are an insult to every black student, Latino student and indigenous people.
‘You attempted to intimidate these students by saying things that are outright offensive,’ he said, according to Click 2 Houston.
X continued to say he was quoting Grueneich when he said that ‘there is no proof that Native Americans inherited the country.’
‘This man is unfit, unqualified to be a teacher,’ X said, adding that he hoped the school would investigate any past comments Grueneich said ‘because if you’ve got that kind of mindset about black people, Hispanics and Indians, who knows what you did with your grade book?’
In a statement to KHOU 11, the Klein Independent School District said: ‘In Klein ISD, we pride ourselves on our ability to create safe spaces for every child in our schools. This former employee failed to do that and is no longer employed in Klein ISD.
‘The statements made by this former employee do not reflect our district’s shared vision, our employees or anything about Klein ISD.
‘We regret that our students were impacted by this language, and if any of them would like to talk to any of our counselors, we will make them available.
‘Every child deserves to feel safe and have a positive learning experience at school . We are deeply sorry that this former employee failed to do this for our students.
‘This incident is still under investigation at this time.’