I struggle with this teaching English all the time. When I read Of Mice and Men or The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, for example, I struggle with whether I actually say the word out loud or not. I've defaulted to saying it and providing the class a brief explanation of why I say the word (to address its power and its historical place, to figure out why it makes us uncomfortable, etc.) and then moving it. But it always sticks with me. I teach at an almost entirely white school where the limited number of students of color have expressed that they sense subtle racism from large contingents of the student body. I wonder about how it must feel to be the only student of color in class and to have your teacher say that word out loud. I don't use it unless it's a direct quote from the book, and even then I tend to only use it when I'm reading from the book and not when I'm talking about what a quote means. But still - that word has power, and as a middle aged white man, I'm not sure I'm in the best position to say what kind of power it should or should not have. I really struggle with it.
I also teach Macbeth. Students always need an explanation at this line. I would not have used the actual N-word to explain the difference. I can see being reprimanded, but fined $5000? That's a little ridiculous.
On a side note, the article said the teacher was suspended with pay for the first half of the 2019-2020 school year. Can you imagine being "off" for half a year and then coming back for less than a quarter and then having to deal with the -------- that is COVID-19 teaching? JTC.