Blanche Ely High School teacher could face discipline for allegedly calling her students 'chocolate'

Leslie Rainer has been teaching for 22 years

A reading teacher at Blanche Ely High School in Pompano Beach has been accused of screaming at a Haitian student in her class last year, telling him to shut up and calling him a "little chocolate boy" and a "chocolate that nobody wanted."

According to the district, Leslie Rainer, 46, of Deerfield Beach, has been spoken to twice before about her remarks to minority students, including an incident in which she allegedly told a student, "I wish they would put you in a boat and send you back where you came from."

In the most recent incident, a student recorded video of Rainer telling him, "You got one time, Chocolate."

Superintendent Robert Runcie has recommended that Rainer be suspended without pay for three days and be required to attend diversity training. The Broward County School Board will consider her case Tuesday.

Rainer, who has been teaching for 22 years, said she plans to fight the case against her.

She denied making most of the comments and said her use of "chocolate" was taken out of context. She said "chocolate" is an endearment in the black community. She said her husband, the Rev. Willie Rainer of Hopewell Missionary Baptist Church in Pompano Beach, calls her "Sweet Chocolate."

"I have never, nor will I ever, offend a child. I have nothing against Haitians, Italians or whoever else," she said. "This is a made-up, false accusation."

Asked about the video, Rainer said students are not allowed to use electronics in class and the video should not be used against her. But she said her comments, allegedly caught on the video, were not as stated in the complaint against her.

She said she was literally referring to chocolate — a candy bar on her desk. Instead of "You got one time, Chocolate," she said her statement was "that one chocolate."

Rainer said she also thinks she has been unfairly targeted by Blanche Ely Principal Karlton Johnson and another teacher at the school, Schandra Rodriguez, because of a 2010 incident in which she and another teacher, Djuna Robinson, were accused of throwing holy water on Rodriguez.

The incident sprang from a discussion in Rodriguez's class. Rodriguez told her students she is an atheist, which prompted one of the students to joke that "somebody needs to sprinkle her with some holy water," according to the Miami Herald.

Robinson and Rainer were accused of doing just that. But their attorney said nothing was thrown on Rodriguez and the "holy water" in question was perfume from Robinson's purse, the Herald reported. Rainer said she thinks Rodriguez still is upset about the incident.

"She was not satisfied with the outcome of the investigation of the School Board," Rainer said. "She feels as though nothing has been done."

Reached at her home Friday, Rodriguez declined to comment. Johnson could not be reached for comment, despite a request made to the district.

Rainer said she's a good person and a good teacher.

"I'm not the monster that they tried to make me out to be," she said.

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