The Maryland Court of Appeals has upheld the 1975 dismissal of a Gaithersburg Junior High School teacher who referred to some of his students as "jungle bunnies" after he said they insulted him with obscene remarks.
While standing near a schoolroom window while a group of students outside directed insults at him, the teacher, John Resetar Jr. said: "Look at those Jungle bunnies. Somebody ought to feed them bananas."
Some of the students outside and the school's assistant principal overheard the remark, according to the findings fo a Montgomery County School Board hearing examiner, who ordered Resetar's dismissal in 1975.
Resetar, however, testified at the original hearing that he had closed the windows before making the remar, that it was "humanly impossible" for anyone outside to hear him, and that he had "mumbled" the remark because of his frustration over the students' behavior all year.
The hearing concluded that "it was intemperance, rising to the level of misconduct," for Resetar to respond to the students' behavior "with a racial epithet."
The examiner found that this incident and two other "intemperate outbursts" by Resetar added up to a pattern warranting dismissal, though he found there was "no pattern" of "racial bias" on Resetar's part.
Resetar appealed the finding to the State Board of Education and then through the court system to the state's highest court, which, in a 4-to-2 decision, ruled that the school board had sufficient information to dismiss him.
In the dissenting opinion, two judges noted that the original hearing examiner "found no racial bias or prejudice" on Restar's part.