http://www.change.org/Please consider signing this petition support these teachers who have been victims of racist harassment and asking for the DOE to comply with its own anti-discrimination policy.
If you have media contacts, please share this story with them - we are trying to build up pressure on DOE. Check out the TV interview and press release below.TV interview with New York teachers who say principal called them “big lipped,” “nappy haired,” and “gorillas”: http://tinyurl.
com/q3k3g2aFOR IMMEDIATE RELEASEContact:Kevin Powell
Queens, NY Principal Minerva Zanca calls African American teachers "big lipped," "nappy haired," and "gorillas"Two teachers that were preparing for tenure this year were denied and subsequently fired by a principal that referred to them as "having big lips" and "nappy hair." John Flanagan, a Spanish Language teacher, and Heather Hightower, an ESL-Science teacher, were the targets of these remarks by Minerva Zanca, principal of Pan American International High School in Elmhurst, Queens, New York.
These two teachers, as well as tenured Theatre teacher Lisa-Erika James, have filed a discrimination claim against Principal Minerva Zanca within the Department of Education-Office of Equal Opportunity-for poor performance ratings and undue budget cuts that they feel were racially motivated.
Assistant Principal Anthony Riccardo, who is also filing a harassment claim against Ms. Zanca, uncovered these comments in a written statement that discloses, in vivid detail, the targeting of these three teachers over the course of the 2012-2013 school year. In Post-Observation Conferences with Mr. Riccardo, Zanca states that Ms. Hightower "looked like a gorilla in a sweater with nappy hair" and asked, "Did you see his big lips quivering?" in reference to Mr. Flanagan.
"It is not only important to have high standards for our public school teachers," says Kevin Powell, President of BK Nation. "But we must also support the good ones, like these teachers, who are completely dedicated to their young people. I find it unacceptable that a principal can engage in this kind of conduct without any repercussions. We are not going to stop until due justice and process is served here. We are calling on the school district and the DOE to review this matter thoroughly, to deal with the facts fairly, and to make it clear that racial bias and mistreatment of teachers in any form is not tolerated in New York City. We are also specifically asking for the support of City Councilwoman Julissa Ferreras, who has a working relationship with Principal Zanca since the school is in her district, and for her to condemn this racist and abusive behavior and to stand with us in pushing for an investigation and justice."
The New York City Department of Education's Chancellor's Regulation A830 is a strict anti-discrimination policy that protects its employees from discrimination based on race/color/ethnicity/gender and sexual orientation. The three teachers feel their Civil Rights have been violated and in return are pursuing their complaint in the hopes of getting their jobs back. Ms. James is asking that Ms. Zanca be held fully accountable in compliance with the Chancellor's Regulations. Ms. James states "It is deeply disappointing that Ms. Zanca has made such hurtful racial epithets and is allowed to run a school where many of the children are of Afro-Latino descent." There are currently no African American teachers left at the school.###