A Queens high school principal is under fire after allegedly using extremely racially insensitive language toward African-American teachers as she fired them. Teachers and activists congregated at the New York City Department of Education Headquarters on Monday to protest Principal Minerva Zanca of Pan American International High School Elmhurst. Zanca is said to have called the teachers “big-lipped,” “nappy-headed” and “gorillas.” The protesters are calling for an “immediate, rapid an unbiased investigation” by New York City Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott’s office.
Teacher John Flanagan said he was fired despite no problems on his employment record, CBS Local reported.
“For the past four years, I’ve gotten satisfactory ratings from the founding principal, and when she resigned, Minerva Zanca came on board, and basically targeted me from the very beginning, and removed me from the school,” he said.
Heather Hightower was also fired and said she is leaving teaching for good.
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“I have no desire to return to the DOE,” she said. “I’m leaving teaching altogether knowing that this system is in place and knowing that no matter what I do, someone can still fire me for something I can’t change is very disappointing.”
Teacher Lisa-Erica James decided to quit her job at the school.
“We’re the only African-American teachers, and all three of us have left – which means there is no African-American teachers at the school when over half the population of the students look like us,” she said.
The Department of Education simply said, “We have received the complaint and are investigating the allegations.”