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City struggles to fire teacher for 'racial abuse'

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City struggles to fire teacher for 'racial abuse'
Photo: DPA
10:37 CEST+02:00
A German teacher being investigated for calling a student a nigger has been shifted around from school to school for at least 12 years because his racism upsets parents – but authorities are struggling to fire him.

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.

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

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