The embattled principal of a Bronx middle school accused of barring a teacher from black history lessons will face two protests Monday: one at the opening bell and another as students head home.
Parents, activists and educators will stage a pair of protests against Principal Patricia Catania of Intermediate School 224.
The Daily News exclusively reported on Sunday that Catania had prohibited an English teacher, Mercedes Liriano, from teaching lessons last week on topics like the Harlem Renaissance and the writings of Frederick Douglass.
The NYC Coalition for Educational Justice, which is organizing the morning rally at the school, said about 25 parents would protest. Among their ranks will be several parents from Middle School 118 in the Bronx — where teacher Patricia Cummings was accused of singling out black students in January for a bizarre, traumatic lesson on what slavery felt like. Cummings allegedly told students to lie on the floor and then stepped on their backs to show them what slavery felt like.
Bronx teacher sparks outrage for cruel slavery lesson
Natasha Capers, a coordinator with the coalition, said the two incidents were related.
“We will be at … 224 to show support for those parents and to show that this is clearly a systemic issue,” said Capers, a Brooklyn mother of two. “The mayor said that what happened at … 118 is an isolated incident, but what happened at … 224 proves otherwise.”
Advocates have called on Mayor de Blasio to expand anti-bias training for city teachers for months. But so far city officials have declined to do so.
A City Hall spokeswoman referred a request for comment to the city Education Department.
‘Racist’ principal bars black history lessons at Bronx school
“I worry about how much this is happening in other schools,” Annagine Lewis of the Parent Action Committee said. “Mayor de Blasio needs to address this issue and make cultural competency and anti-bias training a central part of his educational agenda moving forward.”
The after-school protest will be led by the Rev. Al Sharpton’s National Action Network.
“We demand that she be removed today; if not, we turn up the heat and do what we have to do by any means necessary,” the Rev. Kevin McCall, crisis director at the NAN, said. “She will learn a quick black history lesson on the power of organizing against taking away students’ right to learn.”
The Education Department has said an investigation into the allegations against Catania was ongoing. Black history is on the school’s curriculum. The department was also probing the allegations against Cummings.
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