A racist principal in Queens is going to cost New York City $1 million, which has to be paid in settlements to Black educators. This follows a lawsuit that was filed by the U.S Justice Department against New York’s Department of Education after an assistant principal, together with three black teachers, claimed that the principal of Pan American High School targeted them with racist insults and retaliations.
“It is nearly unthinkable that, in this day and age, one of the largest and most diverse school districts in the United States would allow racial discrimination and retaliation to flourish,” the then-Southern District of New York U.S. Attorney, Preet Bharara, said in June 2016 when the Department of Justice filed a suit against the city of New York.
“Yet that is what we allege happened at Pan American International High School. Federal civil rights laws prohibit this misconduct. This suit seeks to remedy the violations that occurred at Pan American and ensure that the New York City Department of Education protects its employees’ civil rights in the future,” Preet added.
During the 2012-2013 school year, Principal Minerva Zanca was accused of using negative performance evaluation against black teachers to forcefully get them out of the institution. Anthony Riccardo, the assistant principal confirmed this, reporting that the principal pushed her to give low reviews to black employees to help get rid of them easily.
However, Anthony never bowed to the pressure, and that created a rift between the two heads. To revenge for this, the principal gave her assistant a negative evaluation instead, forcing the assistant principal to leave the school in 2013.
Two of the black teachers who were Zanca’s main target were insulted by the principal. It’s reported that Zanca once compared John Flanagan, one of the black teachers, to a black man in a Tropicana commercial, asking Anthony whether he had seen John’s big lips quivering during a meeting. That’s equal to insult.
In yet another case, Zanca likened Heather Hightower, a black teacher, to a gorilla in a sweater. The two teachers received negative reviews, causing them to leave at the end of the school year.
The two teachers together with the assistant principal were recently compensated for the damages. Hightower received a $362,500 payout, Flanagan got $500,000, and Riccardo received a $175,000 settlement. The third teacher in the case, Lisa-Erica James is yet to take her case trial in February to get compensation.