DENISON, Iowa (KCAU) – A Denison High School teacher who was placed on leave for saying the N-word as part of her class instruction says she will back to work starting Monday.
Crystal Holt, a government teacher at Denison High School of 23 years, was accused of saying the N-word during a school lesson on November 14. Holt told KCAU 9 that a question during her lesson on capital punishment and the death penalty sparked all of the controversies. The Denison Community School District said they learned of the situation on Nov. 15 and suspended her while they conducted an investigation.
The school said they were conducting an investigation. Since then, Students staged a walkout and protested on Tuesday. Later that night at a school board meeting, parents, students, and community members filled the room to express concerns or support for Holt.
In a statement released on Thursday, the school district said they completed their investigation and that Holt had no malicious intent when saying the N-word. They said that during a government class, Holt explained to students that “derogatory terms were used by the perpetrator while committing a horrendous act. In doing so, the teacher used the “N” word in its entirety while instructing.”
The school said that the situation has impacted the school and that they will work with Holt to make any necessary changes while they work with her to bring her back into the classroom. Holt told KCAU 9 that she will return to the school Monday.
In addition, the school will be creating a High School Cultural Advisory Committee of students, teacher, and administrators to “ensure [the schools learning environment] is free from cultural bias.” The school will continue to also continue professional development in diversity and cultural training. The school will also create a committee with parents, educators, administrators, and school board members to create “to advance communication.”
The school ends the statement by saying they regret the impact the situation had on the school and the community.
Read the school’s full statement below:
The Denison Community School District has completed an investigation into a derogatory term, the “N” word, being used by a teacher during a Government class at Denison High School. The district was alerted to the incident on Friday, November 15th, a day after the word was used in class during instructional time.
The investigation found that during Government class, while teaching a lesson on the death penalty, students were divided into two groups to analyze a court case for its aggravating and mitigating circumstances. During small group student discussions, about aggravating and mitigating circumstances, the teacher engaged one of the groups who were discussing the case. The teacher explained to the student group that derogatory terms were used by the perpetrator while committing a horrendous act. In doing so, the teacher used the “N” word in its entirety while instructing. Many students reached out to the district for change in the manner in which controversial topics, such as racism, are handled in Government class and across the district. Denison Community School District held a public forum at a recent school board meeting to hear input from the public on the matter.
It is clear that this situation has significantly impacted the educational environment of the District. It is equally clear, that the teacher had no malicious intent. The District will work with the teacher to implement necessary changes, in order to, transition the teacher back into the classroom and address the concerns of all involved. The District is committed to working in partnership with our students, families, staff and community to implement a High School Cultural Advisory Committee, equally comprised of students, teacher leaders, and school administration. The goal of this committee will be to develop an action plan for enhancing our learning environment to ensure it is free from cultural bias. As a district, professional development will be continued and enhanced for all Denison Community School District staff in the areas of diversity and cultural training. Lastly, we will develop a School/Community Advisory Committee of parents, educators, administration and school board members to advance the communication between home and school.
As a District, we understand the significance of this situation, and regret the impact this has had on students, families, faculty, our District and community. We remain committed to providing a safe learning environment for all students and staff.