DHS Students Walk Out in Protest of Teacher Saying Racial Slur


Students stand outside with homemade signs in protest.

Hayden McArthur and Justice Nessman

On Dec 7, 2022, a Decatur High School (DHS) teacher said a racial slur, the n-word, three times while teaching a class. After just over a week since the incident, DHS students took action. On Friday, Dec. 16, DHS students held a walkout in protest of the lack of action taken against the teacher by City Schools of Decatur.

“We need to take action because obviously the adults won’t, so it’s time for kids to step up and do what needs to be done,” sophomore and member of the DHS Black Student Union (BSU) Erin Goode said, “It’s time for change to be made.” 

The teacher’s words had a strong impact on many students and staff at DHS. 

“Recently I have just felt very uncomfortable, being in a school where someone can say such offensive comments about you and nothing happens,” senior Christian Greene said, “It’s really difficult to learn in an environment you’re not comfortable in.”

The protest occurred during the transition time period between the fifth and sixth class periods. When the bell rang to transition, many students walked outside to the front of the building and demanded change. “Without us showing up here in front of the school, the school would have done nothing,” BSU Co-President Mikka Wolff stated, “They would have just let it slide.”

“I can see why some people would be legitimately mad at me for what I did,” the teacher said prior to the protest, “I’m hearing there is a walkout, and I think it’s good that kids are protesting. If I were in that seat, I would probably walk out too.”

Many students made speeches during the protest as well as chanted, which was all captured by CBS News. The protest was initially meant to be peaceful, only for students’ voices to be heard. However, students at the protest walked back inside the school to gather in front of the teacher’s door. 

Wolff talks to students outside of the teacher’s door during the protest.

“We do not support this,” Greene voiced on behalf of the BSU, “This is meant to be peaceful.” 

The teacher was then escorted out by security for his safety. 

One big question being asked among the DHS students was: “What action is going to be taken, what changes are going to be made?” 

DHS Principal Rochelle Loftstrand was asked to speak to the crowd during the protest to give students the answers they were looking for. She said “Things have been done, and things will be done. I am just one person, you guys have a million ideas. We have to educate about what is right and what is wrong.”

Principal Loftstrand stands with students to make a statement about actions taken against the teacher.

On Monday, Dec. 19, Lofstrand met with members of the DHS Student Government Association (SGA) and made similar comments.

“We didn’t get a whole lot done. Ms. Lofstrand did most of the talking, and that didn’t sit well with me,” DHS SGA member Max Barros said. 

DHS students are continuing the call for action beyond this protest. “All we can say now is no justice, no peace,” Greene said.