N-Word serves as music to Akron school teacher's ears

Felicia Haney | 10/30/2013, 9:14 a.m.
As an educator, he has an obligation to advantage of teachable moments. If he felt there was misconduct displayed in ...

An Akron High School music teacher is humming a different tune after finding out that when it comes to the N word, Black parents don’t play that. On Sunday night, David Spondike, 51, a 15-year veteran music teacher conducted himself in a manner that was anything but appropriate. Spondike took to his personal Facebook page where he went on a rant about some unruly “ghetto” trick-or-treaters who urinated on a telephone pole in the front yard of his Copley neighborhood.

Spondike didn’t mind that the trick-or-treaters came to his neighborhood “from the ghetto to trick-or-treat.” The problem he had is “when you whip out your teeny [expletive] and piss on the telephone pole in front of my front yard and a bunch of preschoolers and toddlers.” His solution? “You can take your nigger-ass back where it came from. I don’t have anything against anyone of any color, but niggers stay out.”

After an anonymous source tipped off local media, the post was taken down Monday followed up with an apologetic post “to those who are sincerely offended.” But, Spondike also added that he hears “that nigger word more than 25 times a day in a public school, where it is used thousands of times every day by Black people.” He goes on to defend his statement posting “I wish Firestone High School, and I am sure at other schools would stop openly and unabashedly using the word nigger… Racism is racism and to allow one race to use [a] word and not another IS racist. What I said was absolutely NOT racist by any stretch of the imagination.”

Spondike’s account has since been deleted, but not before he brewed a bunch of brimstone and fire at Firestone High. Parents received a shockwave of awe at the news and many have spoken out against Spondike’s actions and some are calling for his removal from the school that is roughly 50 percent minority.

Donovan Rogers, Akron resident and concerned parent spoke to the Call & Post of his disappointment in his daughter’s former teacher’s actions. “I’m not a 15-year old student, so I’m not as surprised by it as maybe my daughter is. But, as an educator myself, I think that you should take all opportunities to educate the youth on how to make better choices instead of handling it in the very manner that we should be steering them clear of. As an educator, you have an endless amount of words that could have been used in place of the word you’re asking these kids to stop using.

As an educator, he has an obligation to advantage of teachable moments. If he felt there was misconduct displayed in his neighborhood, this was his teachable moment. Instead he chose to publicly display his racial views. I don’t doubt that he hears the word 25 times a day in his classroom. But, I don’t get the fact that you are too timid to address it in the classroom professionally, but not too timid to use it personally. At the same time I hope this serves as a wake up call to our youth who may be naïve to the reality of present day racism. We need to do a better job educating our youth on the historical meaning and intention of the word nigger – with the e-r. I’m tired of white folks using our distorted acceptance of the word as their excuse whenever they are caught. If we stop, what then will be there excuse? He is entrusted with the education of our children; in an area like music of all things, which should cross all cultural barriers. He does not get a pass.”

This is at least the fourth time Spondike has been investigated for inappropriate behavior since he was hired by APS in 1998. Previous incidents include throwing a chair, using the “F” word and spitting on the floor as well as an incident where he allegedly assaulted a middle school student, but was cleared by Akron Police of any wrongdoing. Prior to working for APS, in 1991 Spondike worked as an assistant director in Cincinnati for “The Jerry Springer Show.”

In a written statement from Akron Schools superintendent David W. James, Spondike’s comments were referred to as “unprofessional and unbecoming a teacher. Regardless of whether he was on his own time and own account doing this, he is a teacher; and his actions influence children. This is serious.”