"Santa Is White" Teacher Reportedly Mocks Student Dressed As St. Nick

By: Nick Viviani
By: Nick Viviani

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (CBS) — A father says he will stop at nothing to get a teacher fired after making what he calls racist remarks toward his son who has autism.

It's a story making national headlines and the father says he still hasn't heard from the school or the district. The Rio Rancho School District says they've disciplined the teacher, but he still works at the school.

“This morning is when we put up the Christmas tree,” Michael Rougier at his home Sunday night. “It’s a very big deal to Christopher.”

But Michael Rougier, Christopher Rougier's father, says his son's holiday spirit is all but lost. He says Christopher, who suffers with autism, usually helps decorate the tree. This year is different.

“Today, he chose to go to Sunday school instead of put the tree up," said Michael Rougier, adding he blames a Cleveland High School teacher for his son's lack of Christmas spirit.

As students dressed up for Christmas last week at the Rio Rancho school, Michael Rougier says his freshman son was called out for wearing a Santa Claus costume.

“This is the hat and the fake beard hat Christopher was wearing at school,” Michael Rougier said, pointing to them at his home.

The teacher at the school allegedly said Christopher Rougier shouldn't have been wearing the items.

According to Michael Rougier, the teacher embarrassed his son and made him feel ashamed when he said, “Santa Claus is white, what're you doing wearing that?”

Michael says he called the school's principal outraged, saying he had to hear about it from another parent.

“This is racial in its context and that’s my issue right now,” Michael Rougier said.

A spokesperson with Rio Rancho Public Schools says the teacher self-reported what had happened and has since apologized to the family, adding the teacher has been disciplined.

Michael Rougier says more needs to be done and he wants the teacher to pack his bags.

“I don't believe that this man needs to be teaching children,” he said, adding there's more to this than simply what the teacher said.

“My children cannot fight for themselves. I'm that person that has to do it,” Michael Rougier said. “I will use any and all tools necessary at my disposal to do that.”

Rio Rancho Public Schools wouldn't give details as to what kind of action is being taken.

When Christopher Rougier goes back to school Monday, he won't be in that teacher's classroom because his parents took him out. As the issue moves forward, Michael Rougier says he only wants to hear from the district, not the school or the teacher.

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