St. Mary's music instructor Louis Lebherz was reprimanded Monday for directing a student to perform a song with racial epithets during a voice class last month. Associated Press reports that "[a]n African American student complained after Lebherz had a student sing the original version of the show tune 'Old Man River.'"
The song lyrics were altered multiple times over the years, and Lebrerz's choice to have the racially demeaning lyrics sung in class last might have cost him his job. Ordered to apologize to the class and complete diversity training, the teacher, an artist in residence, also apologized to the student who dropped the class after the incident. In his letter he states: "I sincerely wish to apologize to you for my insensitivity in having a student sing a song which called attention to the racial problems that were and are a serious problem for our nation, and also for our own institution."
Following criticism from accreditors, St. Mary's has been trying to improve race relations, and this instructor's actions aren't helping any. How should St. Mary's proceed?