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City struggles to fire teacher for 'racial abuse'

The Local · 10 Sep 2012, 10:37

Published: 10 Sep 2012 10:37 GMT+02:00

A 16-year-old girl at the Friedrich-Bayer Upper School in Berlin contacted the police last week after she said he called her a nigger.

The teacher, named in German media only as Karl-Heinz Sch., had been talking to his class, telling them, “niggers are people like you and me,” the Tagesspiegel newspaper reported on Monday.

When shortly afterwards the teenager entered the room, he called her a nigger – and when she protested, the Berliner Morgenpost newspaper said, he wrote the word on the board. The school board later confirmed that the teacher had insulted other students too, although he denied the allegations.

Yet one fellow teacher told the Tagesspiegel, “It is not criminal to be right-wing. There are enough left-wingers working in schools.”

It then emerged that the man had been moved through a succession of schools – and had even been suspended, but had successfully taken legal action to return to work.

One father whose son attended the Berlin Goethe Upper School told the paper he and other parents had forced the school to get rid of the teacher after he had concentrated his classes on militaristic topics. “We threatened to no longer send our children to the school,” he said.

The paper said the school authorities had an “immense” file on the man – since he was suspended from the Steglitz Grammar School in 2000 – parents had organised protests after they said he denied the Holocaust during lessons.

Yet the school failed to remove him from work completely as there were not enough witness accounts. The teacher went to court and in the second instance, reversed his suspension.

The BZ newspaper said on Monday that he could only be dismissed if incitement could be proved against him. He told the paper, “I feel relaxed about an investigation.”

He might as well, the paper suggested, because at 63 he is only a couple of years away from retiring – and the regulations mean he will continue to be paid his full wage until the end of any legal process. He was paid in full during the seven years he was suspended – around €250,000, according to the BZ – before a court said he could return to work.

Story continues below…

He has been teaching again since 2007, the paper said – although the Berlin education authorities could not immediately tell the paper how many schools he had been working in. As soon as parents heard about his past, or got angry enough about what he was doing, he was moved on to another school.

City school authorities are checking the case with a view to getting rid of the teacher. “We cannot allow any room in school for racist comments,” Beate Stoffers, spokeswoman for education councillor Sandra Scheeres, told the Berliner Morgenpost.

The Local/hc

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Your comments about this article

11:28 September 10, 2012 by The-ex-pat
Yet one fellow teacher told the Tagesspiegel, ¦quot;It is not criminal to be right-wing. There are enough left-wingers working in schools.¦quot;

I in now way condone, he should have been removed a long time ago, it is a huge failing of the Beamtin system. Unless you have been caught with you hand in the cookie jar and it is witnessed by no less than your boss, his boos, your vicar/priest along with both sets of grand parents and even then that is no guarantee you will be fired, however, the above statement does have a point.......................
12:59 September 10, 2012 by Sooney
It is true he can have his own beliefs - but when his beliefs and thoughts affects children in a school system and complaints have been filed - then who stands up for the children who cannot stand up for themselves - parents have tried - so what message is being sent?
13:20 September 10, 2012 by lucksi
True, it is not criminal to be right-wing. However, denying the holocaust and calling someone a nigger certainly are things that are against laws.
13:45 September 10, 2012 by markoneill
Holocaust denial is a crime, so why hasn't he been arrested and put on trial? If he said it in class, there is a whole classroom of witnesses to what he said. Or are schoolkids not considered trustworthy these days to give evidence in court against their teacher?
14:18 September 10, 2012 by The-ex-pat
Have I missed something, where does it say he is a Holocaust denier????
14:32 September 10, 2012 by Englishted
@ The-ex-pat

The paper said the school authorities had an ¦quot;immense¦quot; file on the man ­ since he was suspended from the Steglitz Grammar School in 2000 ­ parents had organised protests after they said he denied the Holocaust during lessons.

Glad to be of service.
16:21 September 10, 2012 by The-ex-pat
Sorry, don't get the Berlin papers this far south........
22:52 September 10, 2012 by wood artist
Somewhere there is a boundary between having a viewpoint and trying to indoctrinate your students with that viewpoint. From the sound of things, he's crossed it. More than once.

Personally I think teaching about words like "nigger" could be worthwhile, simply from the standpoint of helping students understand how the world was and how things change and evolve. I'm not sure how the German school system "teaches" the "really dark" elements of the Nazi regime, but I suspect the same sorts of things come up there. However, using a pejorative term like that in referring to a current student is clearly inappropriate and I wouldn't tolerate that for a moment.

Yes, maybe he's laughing all the way to the bank, but I'd still get him out the classroom. The money lost would be worth it...for the future.

23:01 September 10, 2012 by crm114
@Expat - don't worry you did not miss anything, the article does not claim he is a holocaust denier, some parents in one of his schools claimed that he made his holocaust denial in lessons. Presumably they were not actually present and presumably his reinstatement after expulsion was due to a paucity of evidence to convict him of any crime/misconduct. Innocent until proven guilty and all that, how refreshing.
02:14 September 11, 2012 by mos101392
Knowing how rebellious I was in school, had he called me a "Nigger", I would have simply turned around and said, "yes, Nazi Schwein what do you want?

Then I'm sure he would have taken me to his boss and then he could explain himself while I gather up my witnesses.
08:28 September 11, 2012 by marvin john
I think this racial abuses and discrimination have to stop, if foreigner kids can not be free in schools in germany , is it on the street they are safe, i think that teacher has to be fired immediately for such statement, it is an indisputable fact.
11:33 September 11, 2012 by trevzns
No it is not criminal to be right-wing. However, using conservative political views as an excuse for extremist ethnic nationalism to perpetuate racial superiority is not understandable or acceptable.

Regardless of his age and Beamter status, this type of behavior should not be tolerated. Since there are no meaningful consequences in place to deal with this nonsense, It maybe a win, win situation for him.

There are many like minded groups and originations in Germany where his ignorance and insecurity issues are acceptable.
14:46 September 11, 2012 by raandy
They should put this person in the toughest school with the worst behaved students in the school.

Some years ago I was talking with the Grandfather of my wife's sister in law. He showed me a picture of himself in his SS uniform complete with a hakenkruis armband. He said the Jewish issue was all communist propaganda.
16:45 September 12, 2012 by AClassicRed
Marvin John, where does it say the student was a foreigner who was called a name? There are many children of mixed race, born in Germany, of a German parent and someone of another race who might have brown or tan skin. That's a side point, however.

Simply because it was presented by this teacher in a classroom that apparently it is permissible to call someone a racist name and get away with it, repeatedly, sends a horrible message for the next generation, the students in the classroom that believe that. I've been in Berlin and heard three guys called someone a nigger on a tram, late afternoon. I stepped up the guys, though I was alone. These were average looking German guys, youngish, early 20's who were young business professionals who looked shocked and embarrassed someone might tell them not to use racist and offensive.

I didn't doubt them when one actually apologized saying he didn't know it was really offensive. I've had a roommate, mid-50's who sometimes might refer to someone in that way, good-naturedly, as if it meant nothing. These are two examples of people who would be highly offended if you called them a Nazi or some such, but don't seem to understand the word is offensive.

People can think whatever they want, to be sure. I don't agree with neo-Nazis at all, though I can understand some of the origins of why some become more extreme than others, and actually did an extended sessions of interviews with a group from Eichwalde, Native American that I am. No, they didn't like me personally, but they felt comfortable telling me their philosphies in a moderate, informal setting. So I accept the fact there are extremes on each side I don't agree with, but they exist and have the right to within the bounds of the law.

This teacher has stepped across the line repeatedly and been allowed to, and the school system and judges who ruled to reinstate him should be ashamed of themselves though I know they'll pretentiously give a long list of why they did so and how it was the right decision.
17:38 September 15, 2012 by ROCKYF
He has a right to his own opinion , right or wrong , at least not killing folks and burning down embassys
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