Forsyth County principal uses racial slur in video captured by student

Credit: Jason Getz /

Credit: Jason Getz /

The two were discussing inappropriate language

A white Forsyth County Schools principal apologized for his use of a racial epithet during a conversation with a student about offensive language, according to a statement from the district.

The student, who is also white, secretly recorded East Forsyth High School Principal Jeff Cheney when they spoke Sept. 9. Video of the conversation doesn’t show or identify anyone involved, but Forsyth County Schools confirmed Cheney is speaking in the video.

The 38-second video posted on social media starts mid-conversation with Cheney telling a student that referring to someone as “pimp or cracker” is not appropriate.

“Cracker is slang for white and it’s the antonym to (n-word), which is a very offensive comment,” Cheney said. “It’s like almost saying that to a white person, so we don’t want kids using the term cracker here.”

Forsyth Superintendent Jeff Bearden said in a letter to families that he approved a request from Cheney to take a temporary leave of absence “to have time to reflect, process and move forward.”

Cheney, who has been principal at East Forsyth since 2019, and two other school employees met with a student about his “continued use of offensive language,” according to the district statement. Their goal was to help the student “understand we must all be respectful of others.”

Cheney “immediately recognized his mistakes in comparing the two words and using the full n-word,” the district said. He informed the district’s central office and met with the student’s parents. He apologized and committed to “rectifying these mistakes in the future.”

The district stated: “Forsyth County Schools believes that at no time and in no context should any variation of the n-word be used. Students and adults make mistakes; Forsyth County School believes that we all can learn from our mistakes.”