The Cambridge School Committee last week voted in favor of opening an outside investigation in to School Committee member Emily Dexter’s use of the n-word during a classroom panel on the suppression of racist language at Cambridge Rindge and Latin School.

The incident took place at a panel held by history teacher Kevin Dua on Jan. 10, for school officials to explain why websites that contain the n-word and the word cracker are censored in the school’s computers. The censorship was discovered while Dua, who is black, had his students conducting research for a project called “RECLAIMING [N-word] v. Cracker: Editing Racial Context In/For Cambridge.” The actual title of the project spelled out the n-word.

Dexter, who is white, met with Dua and his students the following week to apologize for using the word. Dua told The Boston Globe that he found her apology to be insincere and that she tried to rationalize her use of the word before apologizing. Dexter later told the Globe she regretted the way she apologized. “In hindsight, I realized I should have simply conveyed my apologies,” she said.

Reverend Irene Monroe, a syndicated religion columnist and visiting researcher in the Religion and Conflict Transformation Program at Boston University School of Theology, and Reverend Emmett Price, the founding executive director of the Institute for the Study of the Black Christian Experience at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, joined told Boston Public Radio Monday and weighed in on Dexter’s use of the n-word.

“What was supposed to be a teaching moment erupted into a firestorm,” Monroe said. “She drops the word, and the way she drops it, the tone … upset not only the people that were visiting, but the students there.”

Monroe believes that this incident exemplifies our need to have a bigger conversation about not using the n-word and the problem with reclaiming language.

“They will say they are using a different ending and I always say you can’t conjugate the n-word no matter what, because it is deeply rooted in a racist history. So I think that as long as we are conflicted about who has ownership of who can use this word we will continue to have this kind of kerfuffle that we are seeing going on in Cambridge,” she said.

Price was frustrated by how Dexter’s use of the word has changed what the original intention of the panel and Dua’s project was.

“The entire conversation gets usurped by it being about her now. … What the teacher’s goal was was to look at how racial slurs have historically been used to empower and suppress certain people, now we’ve moved so far away from that conversation that the whole thing has been focused on her and, in Irene’s wording, can she be redeemed,” he said.