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Teacher wants district to end use of the 'N-word' in schools

Warren Stokes said students use the racial slur often in school to reference themselves, friends or enemies.

DENVER — A Black substitute teacher in Denver said he wants the district to take action to stop the use of the N-word.

"The 'N-word' is used all the time," Warren Stokes said. "When you hear it, you hear it from students, primarily Black, but you do hear it from students of all races."

Stokes said one time he had to have a student removed from one of his classes at North High School for using the N-word against him as a slur.

"For a Black man that's went through some things, it's very disgusting to be hearing that from children," Stokes said.

Stokes turned to social media to urge Denver Public Schools to make changes going into Black History Month.

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"We're allowing Black students to identify themselves as (N-word) and that is not what they are," Stokes said. "And, when you as a teacher, you hear a student say that and you don't say anything, you're allowing that."

Denver Public Schools released a statement:

“Denver Public Schools strongly discourages students from using the n-word and other racially charged words. Our policies require us to assure that our schools are welcoming and inclusive spaces, and any words or actions that are inconsistent with these expectations are prohibited. The district does not encourage schools to police student language that is considered inclusive among the group of students using or experiencing it.

“Discussing feelings of discomfort is a healthy way to bring to light much of the systemic injustices we face as a society, and we believe it is a critical step in creating lasting change for our students and our community in being more inclusive, compassionate and equitable. We have a robust process with trained designees in schools to address any concerns of harassment or discrimination, and we encourage anyone who feels they have experienced or seen harassment or discrimination to use this process. If there are specific teacher, parent or student concerns, our school leaders are available to meet, address any issues that are raised and work together to quickly resolve them.”

"I'm not saying that administrators or DPS doesn't have something in place, but it's not working and I don't think that it's being pushed hard enough," Stokes said.

He wants a push from the district to change the culture, which he thinks should include teaching students about what the N-word really means.

"I've heard a student say that he identifies as that," Stokes said. "I believe if he knew his history, he would not say that."

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