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Racial Comment Lands S. Fla. Teacher In Principal's Office

FORT LAUDERDALE (CBS4) - A South Florida Catholic school teacher is being reprimanded after making an insensitive comment to an African-American student.

According to the student -- a Cardinal Gibbons 9th grader who asked that we identify him as Kaylan -- his literature teacher made the remark on March 9 as students were preparing for Ash Wednesday services.

Kaylan said the teacher told him, "When you go to mass, you probably shouldn't get ashes on your head because if you do no one would see them on you."

Kaylan said the other students in the class laughed. He was upset by the remark.

"Racial discrimination should not even be thought about in today's society," he said. "When you think about what happened back in the old days and how they did things back then, I don't think it should be tolerated."

Kaylan's mother, Angela Arnette, only found out about the comment last week. She said it was inappropriate.

"I think it was just very rude and very insensitive on her part to have done something like that," Arnette said.

The Archdiocese of Miami released a statement saying, "Recently, an unintentional but culturally-insensitive comment was directed to a Cardinal Gibbons High School student by a teacher. When this incident was brought to the attention of the school administration, apologies were extended to the student and his family during each of the three meetings that occurred. The teacher has received a written reprimand and will be attending sensitivity-training sessions. As Christians, we are taught that when one asks for forgiveness, one can be forgiving. May this bring peace of heart to all involved in this incident."

A diocese spokesperson said the teacher is extremely remorseful for the comment and has never been reprimanded in 30+ years of teaching.

Arnette questioned the quickness of the school's response and said she has concerns over the school's response to discrimination.

"We wanted to know what policies are in place at this school for sensitive situations like this," Arnette said. "The principal couldn't tell me."

However, a diocese spokesperson said the school reacted swiftly, meeting with Arnette on three occasions and disciplining the teacher. The spokesperson also said all its' schools have a zero tolerance for discrimination.

Despite the incident, Kaylan said he enjoys attending Cardinal Gibbons and plans to continue at the school.

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