ST. PETERSBURG — A white substitute teacher is out of a job after repeatedly using a racial slur at a Pinellas County school where about 75 percent of the students are Black.
Karen Boettge, 59, of Lutz, was reported by several students at Lealman Innovation Academy for yelling the word in class on Wednesday. When she was brought to principal Connisheia Garcia, who is Black, Boettge continued to use the term, district spokesperson Isabel Mascareñas said.
Garcia reported Boettge to the human resources department, which immediately put the substitute teacher on a do-not-use list, Mascareñas said.
“They were setting up a time to review” the complaint, she said. “Before they could set a date, she resigned.”
Boettge was hired to substitute in Pinellas schools on July 1. She had worked in several schools without incident, “until now,” Mascareñas said.
Lealman Innovation Academy, at 4900 28th St. N, near St. Petersburg, is billed as a school that focuses on personalized learning. Students in grades 6-12 “take charge of their own learning, invent their own solutions, and develop self-management techniques while contributing to small group projects,” the school’s website says.
The district did not receive an explanation for Boettge’s outburst. Boettge did not answer calls to the phone number the district had on file for her.
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