Spokane high school students call out teacher for using N-word in class

SPOKANE, Wash. — A Spokane Public Schools teacher used a racial slur in class and tried to justify its use because of the way she said it.

During an advisory class at Shadle Park High School, teacher Sarah Jane O’Regan used the N-word.

Right after it happened, a student started recording.

“I guess she was just like, giving examples of what she was hearing and she used it in a sentence,” that student told 4 News Now.

In the video, you can hear students react, saying “No, you can’t say that. You said it. That was unnecessary to say it.”

O’Regan can be heard trying to justify it to a student who was late for class.

“Because I said it with a soft N, like how you greet. And they all got offended,” O’Regan said. “But, I didn’t use the hard R.”

Kiantha Duncan, head of the Spokane NAACP chapter, says you just can’t say it. No matter what way you say it.

“I hear about situations like this all the time. All the time,” Duncan said.

Duncan wants to sit down with O’Regan and have a conversation. She wants to find out the reason O’Regan said that word, what point she was trying to make and if she could see her mistake.

“I don’t believe in a cancel culture necessarily, so I would say termination wouldn’t be my first course of action,” Duncan said.

A Shadle Park mom thinks overwise. Her daughter was there when O’Regan used the slur.

“I was angry immediately. I think she needs to go,” the mother said.

Upon receiving the video, 4 News Now reached out to Spokane Public Schools. A spokesperson said the district was aware of the incident, takes reports of this nature very seriously and would continue to investigate. While she could not talk specifically about this teacher, the district’s Director of Diversity Training said students and staff went through training earlier this year to avoid issues just like this.

“Spokane Schools does not condone the use of the N-word by staff or students – in relation to staff even if it is reading text or a student is being disciplined,” said Nicole Jenkins-Rosenkrantz, Director of Community Relations and Diversity Training.

Two years ago, SPS passed an equity resolution. It heard from students, staff and parents that the use of racial slurs was not being taken seriously enough and something needed to be done. Now, the district says words like that are not to be used and it’s a non-negotiable policy.

“Instead of going through the panic of not knowing how to address it and maybe pushing it under the rug, we are no longer doing that. We are facing it head-on,” Jenkins-Rosenkrantz said.

If a teacher uses the N-word in class, the district says it will investigate. That could lead to termination or mandated training and education.

In this specific case, the district says it will not comment on personnel matters.