Ohio teacher, terminated after racial comment, says he won't back down

FAIRFIELD, OH - The day after he lost his job for making racially tinged comments about President Barack Obama, a former Fairfield Freshman School teacher said he plans to fight that decision.

"I'm not sorry for saying the things I said because I didn't say anything wrong," said Gil Voigt during an impromptu press conference in his driveway Friday afternoon. "The comment I made was, 'We can't afford another president like Obama whether he's black or white, we need different leadership in the White House.' What would have happened if somebody said, 'We don't need a white president like Bush in the office anymore.' You think there'd be any stink about that? Probably not."
The comments in question were made in December 2013, when Voigt apparently told an African-American student the United States doesn't “need another black president,” according to Superintendent Paul Otten. The Fairfield City School District board voted to suspend Voigt when those comments came to light.
The board then voted 4-0 on Thursday to terminate Voigt's contract based on feedback received from Gregory Page, an attorney for the Ohio Department of Education.
The recommendation from Page said, “the referee having duly considered all of the evidence submitted at the hearing hereby recommends that there is good and just cause to terminate the teaching contract of Gil Voigt," according to spokeswoman for Fairfield schools Gina Gentry-Fletcher.
Voigt said he has no plans to apologize for his comments, or for speaking about politics with his students. He also hired an attorney and plans to file suit against the school district.
"I regret having said it because of what's happened, but I don't regret the statement because again, it wasn't directed at any one person," Voigt said. "It was just a total opinionated statement made after class. There weren't many people left in the class. It's unfortunate."
Voigt has found himself in similar trouble before, having received a verbal warning for calling a student a name.
"I have a laser pointer. I point to my notes and my smart board and so forth," Voigt said. "I asked the young man two or three times to get up and he wouldn't get up. I put the laser pointer on top of his nose for about a second."
"The kid who was sitting next to him says, 'Aww man he looks like an African American Rudolph,' and I said, 'You're right, he does look like an African American Rudolph.' Then he woke up and said, 'What did you say about me? I'm gonna tell my mother on you!' Blah blah blah. That's where that one came from."
The district board continues to stand by its decision to let Voigt go.
“The district felt that the evidence was sufficient to support the termination of Mr. Voigt’s employment," Otten said. "The referee recommended such termination, and the board has concurred.”
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