Principal who used N-word repeatedly says the slur 'was used in context' during anti-racism discussions

Elise Solé
Ohio high school principal Doug Leist used racial slurs on multiple occasions. (Photo: Getty Images)
Ohio high school principal Doug Leist used racial slurs on multiple occasions. (Photo: Getty Images)

A high school principal who uttered the N-word on multiple occasions insists he used it in the context of antiracism discussions.

According to the Cincinnati Enquirer, Doug Leist, the principal of Kings High School first used the N-word in January during a staff meeting days after a basketball team that included King students wore jerseys bearing racial slurs. In a discussion about countering racism, Leist was heard using the word.

Then, in September, the principal reportedly repeated it to a black student who wanted to play a pep rally song that contained the N-word. In that discussion, Leist reportedly used the word three different times to convey why it was inappropriate.

“He could’ve easily said ‘the N-word’ or ‘inappropriate language’ and I would have got the point,” the student said, according to the Enquirer. “I was extremely uncomfortable.”

On Tuesday, Leist acknowledged the issue in a school video announcement apologizing for the “distraction” to the learning environment. “I will continue to be an advocate for those that need me. … There are a lot of things to learn from, to grow from and that includes me and everybody, that we can do to discourage racism, to discourage and denounce wrongdoing,” he said.

In response to Yahoo Lifestyle’s inquiry about the controversy, superintendent Tim Ackermann sent a statement, a portion of which reads:

The Kings Local School District is strongly committed to cultural competency and creating an environment that promotes diversity and inclusion. Recently, Kings High School Principal Doug Leist denied an African-American student of using a song with the ‘n’ word in it at the school Homecoming Pep Assembly. When the student asked Mr. Leist specifically why the song was not going to be allowed, Mr. Leist explained to the student that the song used the word “n****.”

The student’s parent made a complaint about Mr. Leist’s use of the word, stating that it made the student feel uncomfortable. Upon investigation and interviews with the student, the student’s parent, and Leist, it was discovered that the use of the derogatory term was used only when the student specifically asked which word in the song was inappropriate. Mr. Leist felt it was important to address the student’s feelings and met with the student, the student’s mother, and Kings superintendent, Tim Ackermann. The conversation helped all involved understand each other’s intentions and feelings towards the use of the word. All parties left the meeting with a deeper understanding of each other’s feelings on this topic.

Kings High School principal Doug Leist. (Photo: LinkedIn)
Kings High School principal Doug Leist. (Photo: LinkedIn)

Some people were incredulous at the school’s lack of disciplinary action. “This man demonstrated a lack of respect for his students of color. How is that ok?” wrote one person on Facebook. “Wow what a leader…absolutely disgusting,” wrote another.

The Enquirer reports that in early 2018, a black janitor at the same high school discovered a rope hanging from a school dumpster (which a school spokesperson tells Yahoo Lifestyle was a “discarded prop from our theatre department”) and on another occasion, some teachers reportedly made statements about deporting students.

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