The white Pasco County, Fla., teacher who allegedly threatened to get black students sent back to Africa has been suspended without pay for three days and transferred to a different school in the county, the Tampa Bay Times reports.
According to the news site, many in the community called for Wesley Chapel High School teacher John Sousa to be fired after he was accused of telling black students that he would call President-elect Donald Trump to get them sent "back to Africa" in an incident that occurred the day after the election.
Superintendent Kurt Browning acknowledged Tuesday that the situation was "incredibly inappropriate," but insisted that it was not a firing offense.
"You've heard me say I'm a supporter of second chances," Browning said. "That behavior is not condoned by this district. But there is a place for him."
Part of the issue apparently lies in there being discrepancies about exactly what happened in the school hallway the day the alleged comments were made.
District spokesperson Linda Cobbe said that Sousa admitted making the deportation comment to students, but she also said that he did not say they would be sent to Africa. Students, meanwhile, "were not unanimous" in describing what happened, Cobbe added.
The Times interviewed Sousa. "I said, 'You kids get where you're supposed to be, or the new president could get you in trouble,’” Sousa told the Times Tuesday, saying that he never pointed out any particular group of teens. “Maybe I should have been minding my own business … but there were kids where they weren't supposed to be."
The 30-year-old teacher also insisted that he is not racist, saying that he was saddened by the current political atmosphere that had brought about the accusations.
"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."
The Times reports that Sousa will be transferred to Mitchell High School in Trinity, Fla., to teach students with autism.
School board members unanimously approved the discipline, saying that the suspension and transfer were enough, according to the Times.
"It's inappropriate language," one board member, Steve Luikart, said. "Do you slap their hands, or cut their knees off?"
"He's being punished enough," added board member Alison Crumbley. "He's on our radar screen."
Browning said that any future issues with Sousa would not be handled the same way because he would be subject to progressive discipline.
Read more at the Tampa Bay Times.