When are “isolated incidents” no longer “isolated” but rather suggest an emerging pattern of problems?
At the board meeting on December 16th, the school board went in to executive session and came back to announce a resolution that a “civil service” employee would be suspended for 30 days without pay.
Talk of the Sound has learned that the person suspended is an an employee at Jefferson School. The person was accused of having made racist remarks, sources say. These same sources told TOS that the suspended employee has a history of similar racist behavior. Word is that the school board was not eager to take significant disciplinary action in the case; anyone who was present at the board meeting could see that board member Martin Sanchez played some sort of role in the board action taken last week. While seated with the board he could be seen nodding as Cindy Babcock-Deutsch read the resolution, as if to say he was satisfied with the action taken by the board to suspend the employee.
Last year, when Phil Carino, a white supervisor at Isaac Young Middle School strung up stuffed animals, including a stuffed monkey, with nooses, the district initially failed to take significant disciplinary action. The noose incident became public with the N.A.A.C.P brought a lawsuit against the district. Eventually, the board voted to suspend the employee for three weeks and convened a full day of “sensitivity” training for district personnel.
In response to the unwanted media attention that came with the lawsuit, the district issued a statement calling the overtly racist acts “isolated incidents”. Readers will recall that the stabbing incident at New Rochelle High School was also called an “isolated incident”. The book censorship was also called an “isolated incidents”.
Now that there have been two racist incidents made public at two difference school over the past year, the noose incident can no longer be called an “isolated incident”.
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The suspension was to begin immediately so by now it should be clear to those at Jefferson School who is no longer showing up for work. We hope Talk of the Sound readers will come forth with additional details on the incidents, the people involved, why it took so long for the district to act and why the person was not terminated. So long as people who engage in overt racism continue to be employed by the district, we can expect more of this sort of thing. If you have your own stories please share them here.