Star City teacher suspended after allegations made by civil rights firm

STAR CITY, Ark. (KTHV) – A teacher in Star City is reportedly suspended after the district received allegations by a civil rights law firm.

On a Friday night in Star City-a high school teacher is the talk of what most would consider a fairly quiet town. "I mean it's been talked about for the past two days, like in every classroom," Lauran Harrison, a Star City High student, explains. Harrison continues, "I wouldn't have ever expected it because he was just like a teacher that everybody got along with."

Allegations are drawing national attention that have been made against high school social studies teacher, Phillip Holtoff. "I was shocked that it happened at Star City," Sheila Magness, Harrison's grandmother says.

According to an article on the SPLC's website, the firm alleges that Holtoff is linked to various hate groups, including American Renaissance and Alternative Right. Additionally, the firm alleges that he has pledged money to Stormfront, which the SPLC describes as an Internet hate site.

According to Hatewatch, a web-based non-profit associated with the Southern Poverty Law Center, Philip Holtoff has posted more than 400 times over the past ten years on, a white supremacy hate site. Posts like, "You don't know chaos until you have seen Negro students going wild in the halls after the election screaming: OBAMA…OBAMA!!!"

Holtoff has been employed by the district since 2011 and has no disciplinary record. THV did email and call Holtoff at the most recent phone number listed several times. As of Friday evening, we have not yet heard back from Holtoff.

According to Star City's superintendent, Dr. Richard Montgomery, the district was made aware of numerous allegations concerning Holtoff's online activity by a writer for Hatewatch. In a statement sent to THV, Dr. Montgomery writes, "We were genuinely surprised by the allegations; however, there are district procedures we must follow in the investigation of any complaint or allegation against a teacher." He goes on to say, "Mr. Holtoff has been suspended with pay pending the completion and outcome of the investigation."


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