FORSYTH COUNTY, Ga. — A Forsyth County principal will take a voluntary leave of absence after a student recorded a conversation where the school leader used the N-word.
The student recorded the conversation with East Forsyth High School Principal Jeff Cheney on Sept. 9. The video does not show Cheney, but the school acknowledged that the recording does feature Cheney’s voice.
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Cheney has since apologized. On Thursday, Forsyth County Schools confirmed that Cheney will take a leave of absence. The district did not confirm how long it would be.
“I am writing to inform you that Principal Jeff Cheney has requested a temporary leave of absence to have time to reflect, process, and move forward. I have approved his request and will continue to stay in contact with him. Forsyth County Schools believes that at no time and in no context should any variation of the N word be used. Students and adults make mistakes; our school district believes that we all can learn from our mistakes,” superintendent Dr. Jeff Bearden wrote in a letter to families.
“I am writing to ask for your continued support of the East Forsyth leadership team, teachers, and staff during this time period. We appreciate you and your family, and are committed to moving forward with you.”
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In a statement released to Channel 2 Action News, officials said Cheney and two staff members met with a white student about the student’s continued use of offensive language.
“The goal of the meeting was for the student to understand that we must all be sensitive and respectful to others,” officials said.
In the video, Cheney appears to be trying to explain racially offensive words to the student.
“What am I calling you that is so bad?” a male student is heard asking in the video.
“Cracker. Cracker is slang for white and it’s the antonym to (the N-word), which is a very offensive comment, right?” Cheney is heard saying. “So it’s almost like saying that to a white person.”
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Cheney was not aware that the student was recording.
Channel 2′s Tom Regan talked to parents, who said they were shocked at Cheney’s comments, but equally shocked about the student’s words.
“Two wrongs don’t make a right,” Chris King said. “We teach our kids to be right and teach our kids to be respectful.”
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