Watch CBSN Live

Teacher Nixed For Mixed-Race Views

The city school board voted unanimously to fire a teacher who told a class she opposed interracial marriage and believed mixed-race couples should not have children.

Eighth-grade teacher Jendra Loeffelman, who was tenured with 13 years in the 700-student district, maintains her concern was only that mixed-race children might be victims of teasing.

Crystal City Superintendent Ron Swafford would not comment on what grounds the board used to fire rather than discipline the teacher.

In two nights of public hearings leading up to the Tuesday night vote, both sides agreed that Loeffelman told a class in October that she opposed marriage between people of different races.

Grace Bingham, 32, a parent of a mixed-race student, testified that Loeffelman also told her in a phone call that mixed-race students often came to class unkempt, and that interracial couples should be "fixed" to prevent them from having children.

"She said that biracial children should not exist, and that's what my son believes now," said Bingham, whose 14-year-old son, Billy, was in Loeffelman's class.

Loeffelman, 52, testified she was simply giving an honest opinion to a student who was working on a paper about interracial marriage for another class. She said she told the student she was "totally against" interracial marriage. She said she believed interracial couples shouldn't have children because "I don't want to see children teased for any reason."

Loeffelman's attorney, Charles Ford, hired to represent her by the Missouri State Teachers Association, said he would urge her to appeal the school board vote.

According to the Census Bureau, 7.2 million Americans and 90,000 Missouri residents identified themselves as having more than one race in 2000. Of its 4,000 residents, 72 people in Crystal City claimed mixed-race heritage.

However, the Census Bureau has said those statistics may be inaccurate because of confusion over where respondents were supposed to identify their Hispanic heritage. Hispanic origin is not a race, but is sometimes thought to be.

The FBI, which collects statistics on bias crimes, says mixed-race people are victimized for their heritage, but not too often. In 2001, the bureau reported 217 incidents of hate crimes against people with multiple race background or groups. There were four times as many hate crimes against white people, and ten times as many against blacks.

However, it is possible that people of mixed race were targeted more often, but were victimized because they were identified as belonging to a specific race rather than more than one.