KANSAS CITY, MO – A white teacher at University Academy High School repeatedly used the N word even after Black students told him it made them uncomfortable, according to student-captured video footage recently obtained by The Defender. The teacher’s name is Jonny Wolfe.
The Defender received this story weeks ago, but waited to publish it to see if the school would take any meaningful action. It has now been weeks since we received the footage, and students say they have still not received any communication from the school or district about the traumatizing incident.
One anonymous student told us;
“Good afternoon, I’m a student at University Academy and a couple weeks ago one of my high school’s white teachers, Johnny Wolfe, said the n-word multiple times throughout the day. He proceeded to tell us, his African American Studies class, that we should be old enough to be okay with him saying it because he was saying it in an ‘educational context.’ We notified our administrators and superintendent and no action has been taken. He hasn’t apologized or been placed on administrative leave.”
The Defender reached out to the Superintendent of the district and provided all of the aforementioned information before asking why the district hadn’t reached out to the Black student-victims of this situation, or why the white teacher, Johnny Wolfe, has not been fired or placed on administrative leave.
The Superintendent’s assistant replied that “she is handling it internally… it’s a personal matter that cannot be discussed.” When The Defender asked further questions about what is being done to repair the harm to the Black students or to hold the white teacher accountable, she again repeated the same line.
At the time of publishing, The Defender did not hear back from Principal Ukaoma. After publishing, Ukaoma reached out to The Defender. An excerpt from the statement can be found below;
“My take as a principal, is that I always think, what is going on here, do we have racism or do we have stupidity. In this instance I’m persuaded that it’s not racism its stupidity. Once I’m finished with my investigation, we are working with alumni, we refer the matter up and there will be consequences that follow. We are having an outside agency review the material. Once I have all that information, including what I’ve found out, then I’ll say what I recommend. The process is still on. I’ve met with a couple parents, I’ve been in communication with one of our alumni. This is a public school, we treat things publicly. We also have to be respectful of things that veer into the personnel domain.”
While it appears the Principal, who is himself Black, now appears to be addressing the issue seriously – at the time of publishing, students who first reported the incident said they had not heard anything from the administration.
This is not to say that the incident is being “swept under the rug,” it is however, clear that the severity and traumatizing effects of Wolfe using violent and racist language have not resulted in any harm repair on the student’s behalf.
It is also both troubling and concerning that the Principal believes that the teacher simply being “stupid” exonerates him from also being racist. The two are not mutually exclusive. The Principal’s comments indicate that there is a lack of understanding on his own behalf of what racism is. Racism is not the simplified, cartoonish evil person who hates Black people. Rather, it is when someone says or does things that are racist. Needless to say, a white man who continues to use the N word after Black students told him it made them uncomfortable, is engaging in racism.
This is a developing story.