Teacher Disciplined Over Gay Slur, Not Fired

The veteran teacher used a derogatory term to describe homosexuals in class lectures.

By Susan Ball
|  Thursday, Oct 15, 2009  |  Updated 3:11 PM CDT
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Gay slurs don't = firing.

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A Geneva school teacher who admitted to making anti-gay remarks during class, will not be fired, the Daily Herald reports.

Instead, the veteran teacher will have a letter of reprimand placed in his permanent file, said his attorney, D.J. Tegeler.

"I'm disappointed and shocked," said Jordan Hunter, 17, an openly gay student who made the complaint to the school district last week.  "I thought they would take it more seriously than they did.  He's more than entitled to his views and opinions, but there's no reason he needs to express them in the classroom," Hunter said.

The incident made news after school teacher Dave Burk reportedly told students in his consumer education class that tax dollars were being wasted on art education and black, gay men.

Burk's statements, which included the use of an offensive slang word for "homosexual," led Hunter to place a written complaint with the dean and switch to a different class.  Other students reported hearing the same remarks earlier that day, the Daily Herald reports.

"Obviously, what he did was wrong," said Burk's attorney.  "He admits what he did was inexcusable."

The Daily Herald reports that Burk read a letter of apology to students in each of his classes Tuesday, saying he "used a very poor example of works to make my point."

"The message I conveyed was insensitive and hurtful," according to the letter.  "This is not what I had intended."

Michael Sunderman, another student in Burk's class, chalked it up to the teacher's old age.  "Maybe it's just a poor choice of words," the student said.

But Hunter disagrees with the school district's decision, and expressed concern over what students are learning in Burk's classroom.

"People need to know," said Hunter, "this is someone influencing the children on Geneva with their tax dollars."

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