Fired for word 'negro', A junior-high school Spanish teacher has filed a lawsuit alleging that she was fired from P.S. 211 in the Bronx in March 2012 because of a misunderstanding over the word “negro.”
The non-tenured teacher, 65-year-old Petrona Smith, maintains that she was instructing her class about how to say the various basic colors in Spanish, reports the New York Post. The word “negro” naturally came up because “negro” is the Spanish word for “black.”
A seventh-grade student in the class took offense at the term, however, believing the word to be a racial slur. It’s not clear if Smith directed the term at the student. Whatever the case, he reported the incident to school officials.
But, wait. It gets better. Smith, a native of the West Indies, is black. And to top it all off, P.S. 211 is bilingual.
Smith’s attorney, Shaun Reid, called the charge that allegedly led to his client’s termination ridiculous.
“They haven’t even accounted for how absurd it is for someone who’s black to be using a racial slur to a student,” Reid told the Post.
School officials refused to make any comment about the allegations in the lawsuit. As such, the publicly-known facts are tremendously one-sided at this point.
In court papers, Smith does address another incident involving an allegation that she labeled some students as “failures.” The teacher states that she had only asked certain students to move to the rear of the classroom after they had failed a test.
The Post notes that Smith also claims that students hurled insults at her, calling her “fucking monkey” and other abusive names.
Smith hasn’t been able to find another job since she was sacked.
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