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Rockwall Teacher's Use Of N-Word In Class Rocks District

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ROCKWALL (CBSDFW.COM) - A seventh grade teacher from the Rockwall Independent School District was placed on "administrative leave" Thursday after conducting a lesson to provoke discussion about society's use of the N-word.

Officials at Rockwall ISD said the lesson – and associated article – that Utley Middle School social studies teacher Rebecca Cook presented to the class were not part of the Rockwall ISD's curriculum.

At the center of the controversy is a 1997 Chicago Reader article titled "The N-Word and How To Use It." The article is filled with the N-word and its central theme is about one man's struggle with using the word.

The article starts out, "I'll never forget the first time I accidentally used that word in mixed company. It was 20 years ago at the University of Missouri, and I was engaged in lighthearted chitchat with Kent, my white roommate, when I casually called him a '[n_ _ _ _ _]'"

Click Here to Read The Complete Uncensored Article - Reader Discretion Advised

Rockwall ISD said they began an investigation into the incident and that "racially derogatory terms have no place in our classrooms or district."

"I don't use that word either and have not for many years," said Mike Conway, who was picking up his grandson from the school on Friday. But Conway did say that students may need a lesson on the word.

"I think it's appropriate for there to be a conversation for it to be presented in school. It seems like information kids ought to be aware of if it's presented appropriately," he said.

Others agree, however, the material is not appropriate for students to be discussing in the classroom.

"I don't think it should be discussed in schools because to me it's a racial slur. It's the same thing if you called a white person a 'honky,' you're not going to teach that in school so why would you teach something about another culture using slang," said Linda, whose child also attends the school.

A spokesperson with the district told CBS11 Friday that Cook had students debating and discussing the word after which she was then placed on leave.

Complete Statement From Rockwall ISD:

A Rockwall ISD 7th grade teacher at Utley Middle School was placed on administrative leave Thursday morning after the district learned of a Civil Rights lesson that was intended to provoke discussion about society's use of a racially derogatory term. District personnel have begun an investigation. Three 7th grade classes read an article and discussed society's use of the N-word. While the teacher has expressed that the intent of the lesson was to provoke discussion, the teacher did not seek prior approval from the campus or district. This lesson activity and article are not part of Rockwall ISD's curriculum and racially derogatory terms have no place in our classrooms or district.

(©2016 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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