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Geneva teacher gets warning for remark
By Josh Stockinger | Daily Herald Staff
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Published: 10/14/2009 12:00 AM

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The Geneva school board late Tuesday chose not to fire a high school teacher who has admitted to making a bigoted remark about gays during class.

Instead, consumer education teacher Dave Burk will have a letter of reprimand placed in his permanent file, said his attorney, D.J. Tegeler.

"Obviously, what he did was wrong," Tegeler said of Burk, who did not attend Tuesday's board meeting. "He admits what he did was inexcusable."

The veteran teacher came under fire last week after openly gay senior Jordan Hunter, 17, complained to the school district about Burk using a derogatory term to describe homosexuals in class lectures on government subsidies for the arts.

Hunter, who was appalled by the comment, said he thinks Burk should be fired for using the rhetoric in front of students.

"I'm disappointed and shocked" Burk will continue teaching, he said. "I thought they (the board) would take it more seriously than they did. He's more than entitled to his views and opinions, but there's no reason he needs to express them in the classroom."

Burk read a letter of apology to students in each of his classes Tuesday, saying he "used a very poor example of words to make my point." Hunter has been assigned a different teacher.

"The message I conveyed was insensitive and hurtful," Burk said, according to the letter. "This is not what I had intended."

After Tuesday's decision, District 304 officials issued a statement calling the teacher's behavior "unacceptable" and noting that he could be fired if there are further problems.

"It's a bad situation to be in," said board member Matt Henry. "Nobody likes this."