KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- A Kansas City charter school with a largely minority student population has fired a white teacher who was recorded repeatedly using a racial slur in his classes, school administrators said.
University Academy officials said in a letter to families that Johnny Wolfe, a history and African American studies teacher in the upper school, had been fired after an investigation prompted by concerns raised last month by students and alumni, The Kansas City Star reported Monday.
University Academy is a public charter school with about 1,100 students, 96% of whom are students of color, and most are Black.
Several videos and recordings of students confronting Wolfe about using the racial slur multiple times were posted on KC Defender, a Black community media platform.
In the recordings, he defends his use of the slur, saying that he was speaking in an “educational context.”
“You can like it, not like it, be upset about it all you like,” he said. “But ultimately this is a ridiculous conversation.”
Students, parents and community members then held a town hall to address racism at the school and a Change.org petition was started to demand that Wolfe be fired.
After an investigation, University Academy officials fired Wolfe and committed to taking several steps to improve diversity and racial awareness, according to the letter.
The steps include mandatory harassment and discrimination training for staff, plus culturally responsive leadership training for administrators. University Academy officials say they will also work to increase the racial diversity of the school's staff, which is currently 59% white, 39% Black, 1% Asian and 1% Hispanic.
Officials said they are using the incident as an opportunity “to understand where we have fallen short and made mistakes. We are committed to evolve and improve. Our objective is to return University Academy to a manner that ensures an incident of this nature does not occur again.”