Whitesville teacher's Hitler comment

A photo of the Whitesville Central School District’s 2018-19 yearbook, showing comments from social studies teacher Jeff Acor that appear to be praising Adolf Hitler.

WHITESVILLE — The teacher accused of praising Adolph Hitler in a yearbook interview is no longer employed by the Whitesville Central School District.

The Whitesville Central School Board of Education voted 4-1 on July 9 to accept the resignation of secondary social studies teacher Jeff Acor, effective Aug. 31, according to minutes published from the meeting. Board member Charles Cutler, who made the motion, voted nay.

In a statement forwarded to the Times Herald, district Superintendent Tammy Emery said that Acor is no longer in the employ of the district.

“Please be assured, the District is taking this matter seriously,” said the statement. “Any message that may promote or condone hate, regardless of intent, does not belong in our School. We are taking steps to make sure this does not happen again.”

Emery could not be reached Thursday for further comment.

Acor’s statements in the yearbook were featured on what appeared to be a page dedicated to teacher profiles. His comments, as well as his photo, are labeled “New Guy on the Block.” The profile introduced Acor as a new teacher, and stateed that when Acor was asked who his favorite person in history is, he replied, “Adolf Hitler, who did many great things for Germany and their youth before the infamous Holocaust.”

The rest of the profile then exclusively quotes Acor discussing Hitler, including comments like “Adolf was outed and faced hardships early in life which a lot of people can relate to,” and, “Adolf made many great strides to make Germany a world super power.”

Acor, who called Hitler one of history’s great orators, declined comment to the Times Herald.

Acor, a 2005 graduate of neighboring Canisteo-Greenwood Central School, was hired by the district for the 2018-19 school year.

Former Superintendent Laurie Sanders told the Olean Times Herald June 27 that a new yearbook would be printed and distributed with Acor’s “complete statement” about Hitler, noting the previous statement was “incomplete” and “taken out of context.”

However, the new superintendent, Emery, told the Times Herald via email in July that “no decisions have been made concerning the reprint of the yearbook,” adding district officials are continuing to investigate.

Emery, a former Whitesville principal, was hired by the district’s board to succeed Sanders on June 18, prior to any media coverage of the yearbook controversy. Emery officially took over July 1 and Sanders was made deputy superintendent.

Media outlets from the New York Daily News to The Times of Israel reported on the incident. The Anti-Defamation League, an organization devoted to battling anti-Semitism, criticized the district for its handling of the incident and offered assistance in training and curriculum to battle discrimination and antisemitism.

District officials have said the yearbook was produced by a student-run, after-school club with an adult adviser who was not identified, noting they “try to give students the freedom and creative license to create and determine content.”

(Contact reporter-editor Bob Clark at bclark@oleantimesherald.com. Follow him on Twitter, @OTHBob)