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Parents, teachers outraged over Indianapolis school director's alleged use of racial slur

Several parents and teachers at Edison School of the Arts say the director, Nathan Tuttle, used a racial slur toward a student last week.

INDIANAPOLIS — An Indianapolis school held a special meeting Tuesday night after the school's executive director was put on administrative leave last week. 

Several parents and teachers at Edison School of the Arts say the director, Nathan Tuttle, used a racial slur in front of a student last week. 

Almost every seat was taken inside the school’s cafeteria as board members listened to two hours of public comment.  

"I am disgusted. You stand up here and tell us we have to be respectful, we have to be kind. We have to use nice words. How about your CEO? Why doesn’t he use nice words? Why isn’t he kind to his students, to his staff, to his parents?" said parent Meredith Phillips. 

Parents, students and teachers are looking for accountability and action from the board, saying they don’t want this incident to be swept under the rug. 

"Nathan Tuttle needs to be removed and, potentially, if the board does not do anything, you need to be removed," said parent Ahmad Perry. 

Last Thursday, parents and teachers claimed Tuttle used the “N-word” in front of a Black student. 

Board member Ernest Disney said he arrived at the school two hours after the incident and that five Black students were in a conference room along with two moms, a teacher and staff members. He said he was informed Tuttle did not call the students the “N-word,” but repeated it in front of them and later apologized.  

Staff members also overheard the conversation.  

"One of the boys did use the 'N-word' and, moments later, I heard Mr. Tuttle correct the student and also used the 'N-word' and used it quite a few times," said Regina Cole, an instructional assistant.  

"My son came home, mind you not he's 5 years old, saying, 'Mommy, the teacher said the 'N-word.'' He didn't even know what that was," said a former teacher whose son still goes to the school. 

Credit: WTHR

Many who spoke Tuesday night said the issue goes much deeper than this one incident, saying some members of the school's leadership have caused a toxic and uncomfortable environment for everyone, including its students. 

"This is what we deal with every day here in Edison. This is bigger than Mr. Tuttle," said teacher Cinnita Sayles.  

"I have my daughter's best friend in tears, teachers in tears. Are you not seeing this?" said a parent. 

Many from the school community are demanding Tuttle be fired and give a public apology.  

So far, the school has only released a statement through a public relations company, saying, "The Board of Directors of Edison School of the Arts became aware on March 2nd of an allegation regarding inappropriate language used by the school's executive director. The Board takes these allegations seriously and placed the executive director on administrative leave, pending investigation. We have engaged in conversations with our staff, students and families about this incident and have made support available to students and staff at the school.” 

Currently, Tuttle is on administrative leave and is no longer listed on the school's website.

An outside company hired by the school is conducting the investigation and will present its results to the board for a final decision.

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