A teacher at a Los Angeles charter school has been removed from the classroom and hit with a lawsuit from the parents of a biracial student who claims he barraged his class with racial stereotypes and said that Michael Brown “got what he deserved.”
Other parents and students, however, claim the teacher is the victim of a preposterous witch hunt.
Steven Carnine has taught at Paul Revere Charter Middle School and Magnet School in LA for nearly 25 years.
The lawsuit was filed March 18, barely two months after Maggie B., the student making the accusations, began attending Carnine’s eighth grade history class. According to the lawsuit, Carnine handed out a questionnaire that asked about various racial stereotypes. The questionnaire was then used to drive a discussion on racial issues, during which Maggie claims Carnine made a host of offensive remarks.
“Black people are judged for not being smart because they are not smart. A lot of them are just athletes,” Carnine is alleged to have said, according to the Los Angeles Daily News. He also supposedly talked about the shooting death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., last summer, saying “the guy was a thug and he got what he deserved.”
Blacks weren’t the only victims of Carnine, according to the suit. He also is accused of saying that “We all know Jews like to hoard their money.”
The lawsuit says Maggie’s father complained to the principal, only to be told that Carnine was an “old school” teacher whom they should meet with privately to try resolving the issue.
Shortly after that complaint was made, the suit says that Carnine mentioned during a discussion on the Civil War that “people didn’t like Lincoln because he was a (N-word) lover.”
The parents say they have had to file a lawsuit because of the dismissive reaction from school officials, “hostile stares” directed at Maggie by Carnine, and because Maggie allegedly fears for her safety. The suit claims Maggie’s civil rights were violated and demands unspecified damages from the school district.
Other parents and students, however, have rallied to Carnine’s defense, saying he is an excellent teacher and that the lawsuit is preposterous.
“The students were talking about Abe Lincoln and the n-word,” one parent told the Los Angeles Times. “The n-word was spoken in class. They talked about how racism developed. He didn’t use the word against anyone in class. He was covering material in the syllabus for a U.S. history course.”
At a petition page launched to support Carnine, a person claiming to be a student from his class says his remarks on stereotypes and Michael Brown were taken totally out of context.
“Mr. Carnine said that [Brown] was a “t–g”, but he absolutely did NOT deserve to be harassed like he was,” said the student. “Mr. Carnine’s class is my favorite class. He is one of the best teachers I have ever had, and I know it is the same for many others … He does not deserve to be treated this way, after being a teacher for so many years. This will most likely ruin his career, which is absolutely unfair.”
Support for claims defending Carnine can be found on Carnine’s Rate My Teachers page. Prior to the lawsuit, he enjoyed consistently high ratings from students, and the vast majority of his negative ratings appear to have been spammed on March 20, shortly after the suit was filed.
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