A South Florida reading teacher once accused of pretending to sprinkle "holy water" on an atheist colleague is now in hot water for allegedly calling a Haitian student "little chocolate boy" and "chocolate nobody wanted."
Leslie Rainer, 46, is accused of making the comments, some of which were captured on video, on the job last May at Pompano Beach Blanche Ely High School. In an administrative complaint, Broward Schools superintendent Robert Runcie said Rainer, who is black, has a history of "inappropriate conduct towards her part-Haitian, minority descent students" and had already been verbally counseled about such matters.
She previously "made a statement to a student that, 'I wish they would put you in a boat and send you back where you came from.'...[she also] told a student to stand in the corner near a garbage can because 'that's where he belongs,"' the complaint reads.
Runcie writes that Rainer made the "chocolate" comments despite the previous warnings. According to the administrative complaint (read the complaint here):
On or about May 6, 2011, Respondent Rainer, a high school teacher, engaged in inappropriate conduct by pointing a pointer in a Haitian student's face in a threatening manner and making the statement, "look little chocolate boy." Rainer also told the student, P.S., that he was "chocolate nobody wanted." Rainer has also screamed at P.S. to "shut up." P.S. recorded Rainer on video pointing the pointer at him and making the statement, "you got one time, chocolate," with the classroom subsequently erupting in laughter.
Runcie recommended the School Board suspend Rainer for three days without pay and attend diversity training, a decision that according to the Miami Herald will be voted on in a February 7 meeting.
But Rainer claims the account is all wrong, and said that not only should the video not be used against her as students are banned from using electronics in the classroom, but that she was referring to actual pieces of chocolate on her desk.
"I said, 'Not that particular chocolate,' meaning he could not get the chocolate on my desk," she told Local10.com. "We were discussing the different chocolates and how the kids don't like dark chocolates so that's when the comment was made."
She also told WPTV that "chocolate" is a term of endearment used in the black community, and that her husband, Hopewell Missionary Baptist Church's Rev. Willie Rainer, calls her "Sweet Chocolate."
"I have never, nor will I ever, offend a child," she said. "I have nothing against Haitians, Italians or whoever else. This is a made-up, false accusation."
Rainer told the station she believes she has been unfairly targeted as revenge for the 2010 holy water incident, in which school officials initially claimed that Rainer and another teacher pretended to sprinkle liquid on an atheist teacher in front of a class. Though the School Board backed off that accusation, Rainer and fellow teacher Djuna Robinson were investigated for making traumatizing remarks to students about the Haiti earthquake before being reinstated.