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Suspended CCHS teacher resigned

Nadine Moschberger, a new English teacher at Campbell County High School to start the 2022-2023 school year, quickly became the subject of numerous student and parent complaints, including that she allegedly used a racial slur when discussing “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” in class.

Her first day of work was Aug. 3, according to her personnel file with Campbell County Schools, but by Sept. 12, she had been suspended without pay, with the end date pending the outcome of an investigation.

The LaFollette Press received documentation of the investigation into Moschberger from the state.

In a letter dated Sept. 14 and stamped as received on Sept. 19, Moschberger tended her resignation to CCHS Principal Ben Foust.

In an email to Foust, CCHS academic coach Ann Browning described an incident on Thursday, Sept. 8: “Nadine attended our book study after school. Present were myself, Jerrod Cape, McKenzie Ayers and Lisa Copeland. We are reading ‘Deconstructing Depth of Knowledge.’ At this time, she mentioned that she was covering satire with her students and using several novels as examples. One was ‘Huckleberry Finn.’ She did mention that she, after saying ‘the N-word’ several times, she actually said the word in reference to a character from that novel. We all reacted with a bit of surprised and discouraged her from doing that.”

A note with the author’s name redacted, reads: “On 9/8/22 I was present when Nadine Moschberger made a comment about not having the freedom to speak as freely as she has in the past when working in Colorado and Florida. She referenced how in Colorado, she could say the ‘N word’ when reading and discussing certain text. She talked about how people didn’t get upset or make a big deal of it there like they do here. She did not say the full word in this discussion. She used the statement the ‘N word’ when referencing the topic.”

The next day, the CCHS principal heard that Moschberger had used a racial slur in class.

In a note dated Sept. 9, Foust wrote, “Mrs. Lobertini told me that she had a student tell her that Mrs. Moschberger had said the ‘N’ word three times in class. At that time, I called the student up for questioning. The student explained that it was her sister that had told her. I called the sister and wrote down her statement, then began investigating the allegations.”

Foust wrote that Director of Schools Jennifer Fields had contacted him and told him that she heard the same complaint and would come and meet her.

Fields instructed Foust to call Moschberger to Foust’s office where they would meet her, Foust wrote. Foust told an assistant principal to cover Moschberger’s class and send her to Foust’s office.

Foust recalls that when Moschberger entered his office, Moschberger asked, “What have I done now, and am I in trouble?”

Foust wrote that he introduced Moschberger to Fields.

“They shook hands, and we sat down,” Foust wrote. “Mrs. Fields began by stating she had heard that Mrs. Moschberger had used the ‘N’ word and asked for a response. Mrs. Moschberger said that she did use the ‘N’ word. Mrs. Fields asked, ‘Why did you use the ‘N’ word repeatedly?’ Mrs. Moschberger explained that she was teaching ‘Animal Farm’ and was talking about satire. She said that she wanted to show an example from Huck Finn’s character ‘N’ Jim to give students an explanation.”

Fields asked Moschberger if she could have found more appropriate examples to teach satire, Foust wrote. She also let Moschberger know that she knew of Moschberger’s meetings with Foust.

“Mrs. Fields stated that we had not even reached the first grading period, and she had already had to meet with me on two occasions for unprofessional conduct and was placed on an improvement plan, but she had not changed her behavior,” Foust wrote. “Mrs. Fields said she could not allow this kind of conduct and was placing her on unpaid leave, pending an investigation.”

Moschberger asked Fields if she was fired, Foust wrote.

“Mrs. Fields explained that she was investigating the complaint that had been made and was placing her on unpaid suspension pending the outcome,” Foust wrote. “Mrs. Fields gave her a copy of board policy 5.201; Separation Practices for Non-Tenured Teachers with the section of suspension of three days or less highlighted. Mrs. Fields then stated her suspension was effective immediately.”

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Administration heard multiple complaints about Moschberger

Director of Schools Jennifer Fields wrote to former Campbell County High School teacher Nadine Moschberger in a letter dated Sept. 15, which read in part: “This purpose of this letter is to give you due notice that we are now suspending you pending the presentation of charges for dismissal to the local board of education.”

In the Final Director’s Report Regarding a Licensed Educator Under Review, which Fields signed, it was written: “Ms. Moschberger resigned her position with Campbell County Schools on September 16, 2022 (letter was dated for September 14, 2022). She was placed on suspension pending an investigation on September 9, 2022. This means she was technically suspended for 5.5 days.”

But though the time period of her work was just over a month, documentation of the investigation, which was sent from the state to the LaFollette Press, detail a timeline of several talks between Moschberger and school administration before her ultimate suspension and resignation.

CCHS assistant principal Olivia Lobertini wrote, “On Aug. 15, 2022, Ben Foust and I met with Nadine Moschberger regarding concerns from multiple students about her classroom discussions. Mr. Foust informed Ms. Moschberger that numerous parents had called and complained she had been discussing inappropriate topics in class.”

Lobertini wrote that Foust talked about how Moschberger had said basketball player LeBron James isn’t a role model and how Moschberger had allegedly said white people can’t be role models anymore in society.

“He also asked Ms. Moschberger to refrain from making comments about the students’ accents and dialect,” Lobertini wrote. “Ms. Moschberger acknowledged she had said these things and expressed this was a way she tried to relate to her students. Mr. Foust asked her to keep the discussion in the classroom strictly content-based. Ms. Moschberger then said she is just relieved she had not gotten in trouble from using curse words.”

Lobertini then also cited Foust bringing up parents’ complaints that Moschberger allegedly cursed in class.

“Ms. Moschberger told us she had explained to her classes that she used to teach in Philadelphia in the ‘ghetto’ where there were ‘real gangs’ and not ‘country redneck gangs’ and that her students seemed OK with her language,” Lobertini wrote. “Mr. Foust, again, asked her to keep her conversations in the classroom strictly to content. Ms. Moschberger agreed and said she was ready to move forward.”

On the night of Aug. 16, in an apparent Facebook Messenger conversation between Lobertini and a redacted name, Lobertini was told: “Here are a few things I would like to bring to your attention about freshman English teacher Ms. Moschberger. First day of class, she told students that if the students would like weed, they should go to Colorado where it is legal. She told them that she taught gang members and beat them up when necessary to gain their respect. She will use ‘choice’ words in and out of class. My student said she has used curse words in class such as piss and damn. She has shared her political opinions with the class. She has told them that she doesn’t like this generation of kids that she is teaching. She also said today that they can say the words pawn, pond and porn in a Brooklyn accent, and they will all sound the same. Then she said they can find videos about porn on TikTok.”

The person then said they didn’t find these things acceptable in a classroom setting, and Lobertini thanked them.

In an email sent to Foust, dated Aug. 25, the author — who was likely a parent or guardian as it says “my freshman” and “coming home telling me about inappropriate class discussions” — listed various things the student had told them that Moschberger had allegedly said in class.

“I am told daily of very inappropriate discussions and things said by Mrs. Moschberger in class,” the author wrote.

Among these included cursing in class.

“Mrs. Moschberger talked about having thick thighs, wearing daisy dukes and tank tops,” the author wrote. “I just don’t see how this is relevant to English class.”

She referenced Moschberger allegedly calling The Bible and God a myth and LeBron James a racist.

“She told the class that parents are raising their kids to be greedy and that they think they deserve things that they don’t work for,” the author wrote.

The student told the e-mail author that a class discussion was on Hunter Biden’s laptop and that Moschberger allegedly said, “Hunter Biden is a racist, privileged white crackhead.”

Then dated Aug. 25 is a note written by Foust about Moschberger, which began: “As I was reading an email sent from a parent complaining about Mrs. Moschberger, she entered my room. I told her to read the email. I then asked her to sit down. I explained to her that I had fielded multiple complaints from students and parents about her choices of discussions during her classes. I told her that I had not had any complaints on anyone else.”

Foust asked Moschberger what she thought of the email from the parent.

According to Foust, Moschberger said she talked about girls in short shorts because they were discussing influencers, which progressed into conversation regarding girls wearing little clothing.

“She then stated she had facts to back up that LeBron James was a racist,” Foust wrote. “I explained to her that she could not let her opinions and feelings on topics influence her students. These topics had no place in her content, and I told her to meet with me and our academic coach at 7:15 a.m. tomorrow.”

How Moschberger responded to allegations

Former Campbell County High School English teacher Nadine Moschberger, in response to allegations of what she was saying to students in class, claimed that people were lying and taking her out of context; her educator’s bill of rights had been violated and that it was an unsafe work environment.

At her suspension appeal meeting on Sept. 15, Moschberger allegedly read from the following prepared statement: “We are here because I am appealing my suspension on the grounds of insubordination based upon perception. First, I cannot be suspended for insubordination of the Professional Growth Action Plan when I was not made aware of what was on the plan and never saw the plan until three days ago on Monday, Sept. 12, although it is dated Aug. 20. Furthermore, there is no insubordination on my part, per the three items listed on the Professional Growth Action Plan. In addition, my suspension letter noted that it was reported that I used racial and offensive language in the classroom. I did use the N-word; however, it was used in reference to a legitimate piece of classic literature that is well within my content area; a piece of literature, unless banned by the board, is on the shelf in a classroom and/or in a school library within this district and available to students. I did not and would not as a person of a multiracial family use a racial slur in my class had it not been in reference to my content area.”

Moschberger then said that Fields violated her educator’s bill of rights when she invalidated her defense before she was finished and her discretion and professional judgment weren’t respected.

In reference to her cursing in class, Moschberger said she had said the word “hell” in reference to “the Underworld of Hell” in “The Odyssey” and that a student reported this as cursing.

She later said that she accidentally used a different curse word in class and immediately apologized.

“Something as benign as giving my opinion that LeBron James is not a hero was also reprimanded, an opinion I gave when questioned during a teaching moment when defining the word hero,” Moschberger’s statement read. “I told Mr. Foust that a student came to me saying he knew of students that were out to get me fired and this was, by Mr. Foust, dismissed, yet I continue to be misrepresented in complaints by students and parents; thus creating an emotionally and professionally unsafe work environment.”

She said that things she’s said in class have been reported since the school’s first week, and she’s been reprimanded for lies, words taken out of context and things in her content area.

“We live in a world where truth is no longer the norm but rather that of people’s offenses,” Moschberger’s statement read. “We cannot, as educators, shy away from our content for fear of offending someone. Unfortunately, education is not the same as it was when I began my career 15 years ago. Today, people take offense of even legitimate teaching that threatens to end the career and livelihood of this veteran teacher all because of the word perception.”

In notes from the suspension appeal meeting, Secondary Schools Supervisor Jason Horne asked Moschberger why she said the full word, instead of saying, “N-word.”

Moschberger replied, “Because it’s true to the literature.”

Horne then referenced the use of a curse word in “Catcher in the Rye,” asking, “Could a teacher get across the same point by saying F-word and not the whole thing?”

Moschberger replied, “Yes, probably.”

Horne said, “In the same vein, couldn’t you have used a different word?”

According to the notes, Moschberger said, “Yes, but I have taught this before and have used the N-word before while teaching it.”

Horne asked if she was reading from ‘Huck Finn,’ and she said, “No. We were reading a worksheet on satire, and ‘Gulliver’s Travels’ and ‘Huck Finn’ were on that worksheet as works of satire.”

In the meeting, she also confirmed for Horne that she had called LeBron James a racist and had called God and The Bible mythology.

“That’s how they’re regarded in literature,” Moschberger said, according to the notes.

She denied having told colleagues that she couldn’t believe they couldn’t say the N-word here.

She also denied telling students to “go ahead and report me to the administration” and denied telling a student 504s don’t exist in her mind.