Florida teacher on leave following Trump-related comment toward students

PASCO COUNTY, FL (WFLA) — A Florida teacher is on administrative leave from Wesley Chapel High School while officials investigate allegations he made an offensive Donald Trump-related statement toward African-American students at the school.

The incident came to light when a parent, Donnie Jones Jr., wrote about it on Facebook. Jones Jr. said his daughter was in the hallway with several other students when teacher and coach John Sousa asked what they were up to. Jones Jr. said Sousa then made the comment, “Don’t make me call Donald Trump to get you sent back to Africa.”

Jones Jr. said he quickly went to the school to complain.

He said he appreciates the school’s principal and assistant principal acted quickly on the issue.

Sousa was placed on administrative leave. “As soon as the school was made aware of the allegations against Mr. Sousa, they called him in and had him leave campus and told him to stay home,” Pasco Co. Schools Spokeswoman Linda Cobbe said.

Sousa met with the director of employee relations Friday to discuss the matter. “The school district is very troubled if one of our employees did say what he is accused of saying. We can’t stand for that. We expect civility,” Cobbe said.

Jones Jr. updated his Facebook page Thursday, saying he called Sousa and spoke with him directly about the incident.

Jones Jr. wrote that Sousa told him, “It was just an off the wall comment and wasn’t meant to be racist. He said it was a bunch of male and female students in the hallway and he was talking to everyone.”

Jones’ daughter says Sousa pointed at her and the other black students she was with when he made the comment.

“There has been no decision made. There’s some discrepancies in the statements from the students and from him, so they have some discussions to have at that level before making any kind of recommendations for further discipline,” Cobbe said.

Jones Jr. believes Sousa is sorry for the comment, – but only because he’s in trouble.

Sousa did not return calls for comment from NBC4’s sister station WFLA. 

Parents picking up students Friday expressed shock.

“This is the reason why a lot of these things that were going on during the debate, have to be addressed and kind of like, you know, put at ease and put in perspective because people now just can’t come out and make comments like that. It’s just not right,” Teddy Velazquez said.

Jones Jr. said he and his wife are very disappointed in the teacher’s actions and preferred not to comment on camera until they learned what Pasco County school officials plan to do about the matter.

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