SANFORD, Maine (WMTW/CNN) - A couple is outraged after an assistant school principal used the N-word against their biracial son. They say the official used the racial slur while trying to reprimand their 9-year-old.
The school says the educator was trying to teach the boy a lesson about bullying.
"He's going to remember this for the rest of his life that his principal called him this at school," said Jessica Gouin, the boy's mom.
Gouin said her son came home from his elementary school and told his parents that the assistant principal called him the N-word.
His dad immediately called the school.
In a meeting, the assistant principal apologized for her word choice.
"She said, 'Yes, I know I'm wrong. I did call your son a n*****, and I wasn't thinking about the consequences at the time or what it would do to your child,'" said Neil Jarett, the boy's dad.
The school said it happened after the boy was sent to the principal's office for bullying another student.
That's where the assistant principal asked him, "If I called you [expletive] how would you feel?"
Matthew Nelson, the superintendent, said the assistant principal was trying to show the student how words can hurt.
"We're trying to make an example and we failed in terms of being able to do that. But there was no malice intended. It wasn't intentional in terms of that," Nelson said.
The boy's parents say their son was targeted.
"There's no way that would cross her mind if she wasn't really looking at him that way," Jarett said.
Nelson said the assistant principal will undergo additional training, but the boy's parents are worried that lack of repercussions mean this could happen again.
"They're just going to brush off and keep it that way and maybe a couple years down the line, it's going to be the same thing. It may not be my kid but someone else's kid," Jarett said.