The #TrumpEffect reared its ugly head within 24-hours of election day back in November. There were reports across the country on high school and college campuses of students and teachers threatening to deport Black, Mexican, and Muslim students.
John Sousa, a special education teacher and golf coach at Wesley Chapel High School near Tampa Bay, Florida, added fuel to the flame of bigotry with a threat of his own. He threatened to call the incoming president and have three Black students (who were actually on an off-period) sent back to Africa if they didn't clear the hallway and get to class.
Donnie Jones, Jr., Army vet, photographer, and father of one of the students reportedly threatened by Sousa, went to the school after hearing his daughter's account of the day's events. According to Jones' daughter, Sousa said, "Don't make me call Donald Trump to get you sent back to Africa." Of course Jones filed a complaint with school officials, and Sousa was sent home on paid leave. Jones then posted his reaction on his Facebook page:
The following day, Jones posted a statement claiming he called Sousa and the teachers said "he didn't intend it to be racist." Sousa offered an apology, but claimed that he was talking to a larger group of students of different ethnicities:
Aside from suspending Sousa, several days passed before any substantive action had been taken against him. Part of the problem stemmed from the varying eyewitness accounts of what occurred. According to an article posted on The Root, Pasco County School District spokesperson Linda Cobbe said that Sousa did admit to making the deportation comment to students, but made no reference to Africa. She claims that the students, “were not unanimous” in describing what happened.
An even more disturbing approach toward resolving the matter came from District Superintendent Kurt Browning and others who believe that these racist remarks were a lesser offense and that leniency for Sousa is warranted here. Browning acknowledged that the situation was “incredibly inappropriate." He went on to remark, “You’ve heard me say I’m a supporter of second chances. That behavior is not condoned by this district. But there is a place for him.” Uh, what place is that?
According to The Tampa Bay Times, Sousa has been transferred to Mitchell High School in trinity, Florida, to teach autistic students. Great. He has been given an opportunity to shape the minds of special needs children. He doesn't fully understand the weight of his actions and his "punishment" will likely not help him figure it out.
Sousa believes that the election gave way to him being falsely accused saying, "I didn’t vote for Donald Trump. …I am not a racist,” he said. “This is what’s wrong with America. People make accusations about people without really knowing them.”
Well, John, you may not have voted for Trump, but your actions embody the thoughts, attitudes, and beliefs of Trump and those who support him--openly and privately. You admittedly threatened the freedom of children in your charge who, as a teacher, you are supposed to educate and protect. And yet, you will continue to draw a paycheck from the same people whose tax dollars help make it possible for you to even have a job. Now THAT is what's wrong with America.