CHILDREN at an East Lothian primary school claimed they were told by a teacher 'black people can't swim' during a lesson.
Youngsters from the school's primary six class told their parents the comment was made as one of them was telling her friends about a swimming lesson.
East Lothian Council launched an investigation after the mother of two pupils at the school, which the Courier has chosen not to name, made a formal complaint.
However, the local authority ruled the comment was not racist because it was used 'in context'.
In a letter to the concerned parent, a senior council official said the class had been discussing, as part of their daily routine, a BBC Newsround item on a sporting event in which all the athletes were black.
It said: "Following a question from a pupil as to why all the athletes were black, (the teacher) gave his class factual information in relation to body density of black and white people and an explanation of the physiology of black people. The example he provided was in relation to swimming and being in water.
"Having reviewed the information available to me, I am satisfied that all the imformation provided as part of the discussion was factual and I do not consider a racist remark was made."
He then went on to advise her to raise a complaint with the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman if she was not happy with the council's decision, despite the fact the ombudsman is not legally allowed to investigate 'conduct, curriculum or discipline in schools'.
The mother who made the complaint claimed the council's response was unacceptable.
She also said that, when she asked the school itself to look into the comment, the headteacher told her "he [the teacher] can't possibly be racist because he has a black brother-in-law".
The mum said: " I think it's wrong for the council to allow the teaching of eugenics outside of history or sociology lessons.
"As you would expect there are arguments to be found which support the view of the teacher, and those which most certainly don’t support them. My daughters, both of mixed heritage, can and do swim! "
The comment was made to students earlier this year.
The mum told the Courier this week: "The incident was brought to my attention by a guardian of a child who had been present at the time; they informed me that a teacher of primary six at the primary school had said 'black people can’t swim'. This had been said to a table of children in the teacher’s class when a child had been discussing her swimming lessons with friends. 
"It appears that there was no discussion so this piece of misinformation was delivered to a group of children without any further explanation or qualification. 
"Another parent of a child in the same class also approached me the following day as her child had spoken to her regarding the incident and confirmed what I’d previously heard."
She said East Lothian Council interviewed the teacher but made no attempt to talk to any of the children who had repeated the comment.
And she said there were arguments on both side of the debate about bone density differences.
She said: "Black people may have more bone density and less body fat which would make it more difficult to be buoyant but although it is likely to be harder to learn, they can, and do swim.

"The ‘fact’ therefore is seriously misused and misplaced to weight an opinion which I view to be racist. There is a wealth of information on this subject and, in this day and age, no one, least of all a teacher can plead ignorance." 

A spokesperson for East Lothian Council said: “The council has a robust complaints procedure and we take any and all complaints made to us very seriously and all are dealt with fairly and thoroughly under this process. In the case of this complaint, a thorough investigation was carried out, headed by a senior manager, and at the conclusion of this investigation we informed the complainant that we had found no evidence to uphold her complaint. 
"This was investigated fully in accordance with both our complaints procedure and our equality and diversity policy. We are satisfied that the comments made by the teacher in this case were made legitimately in the course of a lesson."