Teacher disciplined for 'Santa is white' remark



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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) - A New Mexico high school teacher has been disciplined after a parent says the man told his black son that Santa Claus is white.

Officials at the school in Rio Rancho, about 15 miles north of Albuquerque, said Saturday that the teacher recently was disciplined for his comments to the student, but they declined to say how.

The move came after students at Cleveland High School were told they could come to class dressed as Santa, an elf or a reindeer.

Michael Rougier told KOB-TV his ninth-grade son, Christopher, arrived wearing a Santa hat and beard, and the teacher asked the boy: "Don't you know Santa Clause is white? Why are you wearing that?"

The teacher's name was not released.

Michael Rougier said the teacher's comments enraged him.

"There's no room for that in the classroom," he said. "Whether this teacher felt Christopher may have been wearing this out of context, there's no room for it. There's just no room for it."

The incident happened the same week that Fox News Channel's Megyn Kelly said on the air that both Santa Claus and Jesus were white. Her comments drew national attention and prompted a slew of heated comments on blogs and social media sites.

A spokeswoman for Rio Rancho Public Schools told The Associated Press that the Cleveland High School teacher knows he made a "stupid mistake" and has since apologized to the Rougier family.

"The remark was inappropriate and should not have been made. The teacher feels very badly about what occurred," district spokeswoman Kim Vesely told the AP in an email. "He self-reported the incident to the principal and has apologized to the student and to the student's parent. Appropriate disciplinary action has been taken."

Michael Rougier said he still has concerns about the teacher. "If he has that attitude, how is it affecting students, studies, grading habits, trending toward Caucasian kids?" Rougier said.

The teacher still works at Cleveland, but Christopher has been removed from his class at his family's request, Vesely said.

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Follow Russell Contreras on Twitter at http://twitter.com/russcontreras.

(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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