More than 50 angry parents marched on City Hall on Tuesday to call for anti-bias training of city teachers after a Bronx educator was removed from her job for racist lessons.
The Daily News reported Thursday that Middle School 118 teacher Patricia Cummings singled out black students during lessons on U.S. slavery in January and told them to lie on the floor — then stepped on them to show what slavery felt like, according to staffers and students.
Cummings, 36, who has worked in city schools since 2016, remains on the city payroll while her actions are being investigated by city Education Department officials.
Leaders of student and parent groups say her story shows that city teachers need more anti-bias training, an issue activists have pressed the city on for months.
Bronx teacher sparks outrage for cruel slavery lesson
Some of them took to City Hall Tuesday to demand that Mayor de Blasio expand anti-bias lessons and create an office for culturally responsive education within the city Education Department.
The gathering of city parent leaders from groups including the Coalition for Education Justice, the Alliance for Quality Education and the NYCLU began with speeches on the steps of City Hall decrying racial insensitivity in public school classrooms.
“We’ve been pushing for this for more than a year, but they can ignore us no longer,” said Natasha Capers, coordinator of the NYC Coalition for Educational Justice, which organized the protest.
“We’re here because of the horrific story in the Daily News,” said Capers, a Brooklyn mother of two children enrolled in public schools. “Incidents like these are harmful to our students.”
Parents urge de Blasio to give teachers anti-bias training
The group then took to the rotunda in City Hall with singing and chanting and refused to leave until Capers was granted a quick meeting with de Blasio’s Chief of Staff, Emma Wolfe.
Capers said she told Wolfe that de Blasio must meet with parents to discuss racism in city classrooms or else the protesters will return for another demonstration Thursday.
A City Hall spokeswoman said de Blasio administration officials are considering the request.
De Blasio slammed the alleged actions of Cummings at an unrelated press conference across town.
Protesters to seek anti-bias training for city teachers
“It’s not acceptable. It’s not even close,” de Blasio said when asked about the allegations. “I don’t know any teacher in their right mind who would do something like that.”
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JILLIAN JORGENSEN, BEN CHAPMAN