Decatur students call for zero-tolerance policy after teacher uses N-word on video

Students calling for zero-tolerance policy after teacher uses racial slur in the classroom
Published: Dec. 16, 2022 at 10:56 PM EST
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DECATUR, Ga. (Atlanta News First) - On Wednesday night, parents, students, and school leaders in Decatur held a community forum.

The students say there needs to be a policy in place to ensure teachers are held accountable for using racial slurs in the classroom.

Hundreds of students held a walkout last week after students say their physics teacher Mr. Chestnut was suspended from class for one day without pay for saying the n-word three front of students.

Students say the principal apologized to the school on behalf of Mr. Chestnut.

The principal sent a letter to parents saying discrimination won’t be tolerated.

However, students say Mr. Chestnut justified his actions instead of apologizing.

“I got the opportunity to think about how and why that got past the filter and it’s easy for me to wonder why growing up in this country when I did starting in the past that I absorbed some racists nonsense that’s still plumping around in my head,” Chestnut said.

Atlanta News First reached out to the Decatur School District multiple times but has not heard back.

The District Superintendent, Maggie Fehrman, eventually acknowledged a request for comment from Atlanta News First on Wednesday evening and sent the following message.

“Our spokesperson has been out on leave. With the district being closed it is difficult for me to gather all the necessary information to provide a response at this time. Please reach back out in January when our offices are back up,” Fehrman said.


On Friday, hundreds of Decatur High School students walked out in protest after a teacher used a racist slur in class.

“He directed it to two students, not directly calling them the n-word but just telling them not to say it. This caused a lot of people to be in shock because we weren’t expecting him to say the actual word and he said it multiple times,” a Decatur High School student said.

Students said a teacher identified by staff members as Mr. Chestnut, was removed from class for one day after using the n-word last week in front of his physics class.

When he returned to class students were outraged and stormed the halls protesting Friday.

Students told Atlanta News First that Mr. Chestnut needs more diversity training and should be fired.

“Every colored, Asian, and Hispanic people were very hurt by him saying it and they really just wanted something to change especially because he was suspended one day and came back acting natural. He did make himself the victim and when he apologized he didn’t really even apologize and we just feel like something should happen.”

When Mr. Chestnut returned to school he addressed students in his sixth-period class.

“It was harmful for me to say it. For me as a middle-aged white man to say it. It hits in a different way and it’s almost like it’s cool and it’s definitely not and I could have thought about that at the moment and done something different,” Mr. Chestnut said.

Mr. Chestnut also acknowledged students may no longer feel safe returning to his class.

“I had the opportunity to think about how and why that got past the filter. It’s easy for me to wonder growing up in this country at the time I did start in the past that I have absorbed some racist nonsense that’s still plumping around in my brain,” Mr. Chestnut said.

Atlanta News First reached out to the district and they haven’t responded.

“The only reason I’m showing up to class next week is that I have to do a re-test. It was so not a good apology I don’t even remember what he said,” a student said.

The school principal did send out this letter to parents days later:

To listen to Mr. Chestnut’s full statement to his sixth-period contact class, click below.