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Exclusive: Teacher Suspended For Alleged Racial Comment

HOMESTEAD (CBS4) - CBS4 has learned a 4th grade teacher at a Lincoln-Marti school in Homestead has been suspended after a 9-year-old, African-American student said the teacher called him "Haitian" and told him to stand up in front of the class.

In a CBS4 exclusive, the boy told us, "I was feeling terrible about what happened during an argument with a classmate. My classmate called me Haitian. And I called him Haitian. The teacher came in and called me Haitian. And told me to stand up."

That's what he did.

"I felt embarrassed. So I just did my punishment," the student told CBS4's Peter D'Oench.

At the mother's request, we are shielding the boy's identity to prevent future problems for her son and possible teasing of her son by others.

The youngster told D'Oench that the incident was the worst thing that has ever happened to him at his private school.

"It was a horrible feeling for an adult to call children Haitian," he said. "All my friends stared and my classmates stared. I was embarrassed in front of all of my friends and my classmates."

His mother sent an e-mail to CBS4.

"When he came home and told me, I was shocked," said the mother, whose son had received a scholarship to attend the school. "I was shocked that this happened in school with a teacher. That's not something you send your kids to school for. He has a first name and a last name. He doesn't need to be addressed by his ethnicity or his race, just his first name and his last name."

"She kind of opened the door to something he didn't know existed," the mother said. "He has friends of every color and every race."

The school is not identifying the teacher. But one hour after D'Oench stopped at the school at 28800 S.W. 152nd Ave. for comment, the school announced that the teacher had been suspended pending the results of the investigation. And the probe will determine the teacher's future with the school.

The school's General Counsel, Demetrio J. Perez, released a statement, saying, "Lincoln Marti does not tolerate discrimination of any kind and the school takes this matter very seriously. The incident is under investigation."

Perez told D'Oench the investigation would "get to the bottom of what happened."

The mother is glad she spoke up.

"Parents have to be real careful," she said. "Talk to your kids. Find out what they are doing. If he hadn't talked, this might have continued."

"I don't want all the teachers doing the same thing to me," said the student.

And now the mother says she is looking for a new school for her son.

"It's going to be hard," she said, "particularly since I'll have to try to find another scholarship. But I just think my son will be better off somewhere else."

"He loves school and athletics and is an excellent student," she said. "And I know he will go far."

The mother said she felt it was important that the teacher be disciplined.

"Some kind of discipline is important," she said. "I don't want to say fire her because that would be too much. And I don't want to see that happen because I am not an evil person."

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