An Ohio principal under fire for his repeated use of the N-word insists he used the slur “in context” during staff discussions on combating racism.

Doug Leist, the principal of Kings High School in Kings Mill, has faced zero disciplinary action from the district, despite complaints from students and staff about his use of the offensive slur once during a staff meeting and multiple times while talking with a Black student, according to the Cincinnati Enquirer.

At least one person objected each time the principal used the word.

Doug Leist
Doug Leist has since apologized to students for using the word and for the “distraction” his actions have caused. (Image courtesy of WXIX)

“We’re learning that even using it specifically, there were still people offended by it, and we have to learn from that,” said Superintendent Tim Ackermann.

Leist reportedly first used the word in January during a meeting with staff regarding a recreational basketball game that included Kings students, where players wore jerseys bearing racial slurs like “coon” and “knee grow” printed on the back. Leist assured staff the incident didn’t reflect the district’s culture — then proceeded to use the n-word while describing racially intolerant behavior by students on social media.

A recording from the incident captured the principal using the slur, according to the newspaper.

“I am floored,” one employee present at the meeting wrote in a complaint to Ackermann. “How are parents with non-White students supposed to feel comfortable with their kids in his (Leist’s) care?”

Months later in September, the principal allegedly repeated the word to a Black teen during a discussion about music for dance routine the student had planned for a homecoming pep rally.

“Does the song say ‘n—a’?” Leist said, according to the student. The student claimed Leist used the slur three more times during their conversation to convey why it was inappropriate.

“He could’ve easily said ‘the N-word’ or ‘inappropriate language’ and I would have got the point,” the student told the Enquirer. “I was extremely uncomfortable.”

The student complained to several teachers after the incident, one of whom who asked to remain anonymous, said the teen was in tears by the time he finished telling what happened. The student also alerted his mother, who demanded the district take action and stop “sweeping racism under the rug.”

On Tuesday, Leist addressed the controversy in a video announcement apologizing for the “distraction” his actions have caused to the learning environment.

“I will continue to be an advocate for those that need me,” he began. “… There are a lot of things to learn from, to grow from and that includes me and everybody, that we can do to discourage racism, to discourage and denounce wrongdoing.”

He added; “I wanted you to know how much I care about the kids in this school and the people in this community, and it’ll always continue to be that way.”

In regard to the incidents, Ackermann told the Enquirer that he and Leist met with the unnamed teen and his mother earlier this month and that the matter was handled. He added that no investigation other than his own was conducted in that incident or the staff meeting because he “had all of the facts.”

Watch more in the video below.

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