Mullen terminates teacher after racial incident

5:45 AM, Sep 24, 2010   |    comments
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In a written statement provided to 9NEWS, Mullen president Bob Regan called English teacher Tim Thornton "a good and decent man" but acknowledged the damage his conduct did to the school community.

"His heart contains no malice that we can detect, but his behaviors can be extraordinarily insensitive and deeply hurtful to many individuals on our campus," Regan said.

Thornton's employment was terminated effective immediately, the statement said.

Thornton was put on paid administrative leave for two weeks after school administrators learned he used the "N" word in class on August 30, offending a black student. Thornton says he used the word after it was left "blank" in a story his class was reading.

Thornton spoke to 9NEWS on Wednesday, prior to his termination. He said he was upset by the situation, mostly because he hurt one of his students, Tylor Brown. Brown is the student who complained to administrators.

In all the years Thornton has worked at Mullen High School, he says he has never made a mistake like this.

"I'm not sure I did one single thing right that day," Thornton said.

Thornton admits to using the "N" word out of context, to making racist jokes and how he even told students he dealt with racist issues in the past.

"No teacher should hurt someone," he said. "That shouldn't happen in a classroom."

Thornton says the mistake he made was forgetting to tell his students at the end of class that he meant no harm by saying the things he said.

"That's what I should have said, and that's what I've said in the past," Thornton said. "But that day, I didn't say that. Whether it's because I didn't get a chance - the bell rang and I let them go, and I never should have done that."

Thornton knows he stepped out of line and that he shouldn't have gone so far. But in all fairness he says, the things he said were not meant to be taken seriously. Looking back on it now, he says they shouldn't have been said in the first place.

He says it's not hearing his named dragged around by some parents that hurts the most. Instead, Thornton says it's the fact he hurt his student, Tylor Brown

"You want to know what's the biggest sin? That's the biggest sin. Nothing I said even comes close to that. I hurt that kid. I would give my left arm. Come take it. Come take it now. To take it back from him and show him that's not us, that's not Mullen. That's not me," he said.

(KUSA-TV © 2010 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)

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