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Claudia Alves, the principal of Poulsbo Elementary School in Poulsbo, Washington, should be fired for using the N-word to describe African Americans while teaching her black, fifth-grade students.

Instead, Alves has been placed on a leave of absence while the school district investigates her use of the N-word.

Any use of the N-word is intolerable in a public school, especially when teachers are hired to shape the minds of young students.

When did it become acceptable for educators to throw around the N-word in class as casually as taking roll in homeroom?

Here’s what happened: When a group of students voiced their concern  with saying “Negro” during rehearsal for a Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. play, Alves allegedly attempted to explain the difference between a “Negro” and a “nig***.”

According to local media reports, Shawna Smith, the mother of a Poulsbo fifth-grader, said students in her son’s class were uncomfortable with the word “Negro” in a play they were rehearsing about Martin Luther King Jr. Smith is white, and is married to Matthew Smith, who is black.

Alves explained to Smith’s son that it was acceptable to use “Negro” because it is not offensive like “Nig***”

What was Alves thinking?

Smith’s son, according to reports, was so upset by the term “Negro” that he refused to participate in the play. But then, for some unexplained reason, Alves used the N-word again – this time on the phone with Smith’s husband and she was suspended two days later. Alves deliberately used the N-word a second time and that bigoted behavior should be a firing offense.

Poulsbo Superintendent Patty Page sent a letter to parents informing them of the incident and the ongoing search for an acting principal.

COMMENTARY: Racism in Schools is on the Rise; What Do We Do?  was originally published on

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