LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — A Brentwood parent is suing the school district, charging that a male teacher made offensive and racially charged comments in his class in front of and focused on his biracial daughter.
The parent accused the teacher of using the N-word, said “black people were not smart,” as well as suggesting teen Michael Brown, shot to death by a police officer in Ferguson, Mo., “got what he deserved.”
Court papers obtained by City News Service show the complaint was filed by a parent identified only as Shawn B. for the benefit of his daughter, Maggie B., a student at Paul Revere Charter Middle School and Magnet Center in Brentwood.
The suit alleges civil-rights violations and seeks unspecified damages as well as a court order directing that the Los Angeles Unified School District provide accommodations to students “free from prohibited discrimination.”
An LAUSD representative said the district has “no comment on the complaint, which we are still reviewing. District policy is adamant that all
students are to be treated with respect. The safety of students is L.A. Unified’s highest priority.”
The plaintiff is under 18 and is half black and half white, according to the suit filed Wednesday in Los Angeles Superior Court. She started Paul Revere School two years ago as a seventh-grade student and selected the campus because of its racial and socioeconomic diversity, according to the complaint.
Early this year, the student was assigned to an eighth-grade history class taught by Steven Carnine. On Jan. 16, the day after the birthday
of slain civil-rights leader Martin Luther King Jr., Carnine handed out a questionnaire that asked about racial stereotypes, according to the plaintiff.
During a follow-up discussion, Carnine brought up the shooting of Brown by former officer Darren Wilson.
“In discussing the incident, Carnine said that the guy was a thug and he got what he deserved,” according to the suit, which alleges that the
teacher also said: “Black people are judged for not being smart because they are not smart. A lot of them are just athletes.”
Carnine went on to say that if he was walking alone at night and there were two black men behind him, he was “immediately going to be scared and think they are either going to steal from me or hurt me,” the lawsuit alleges.
Carnine made the anti-black remarks while looking directly at the plaintiff and the one other black student in the class, the suit alleges. The class has about 30 students in all.
The suit also alleged that the teacher also said: “We all know Jews like to hoard their money.”
Maggie, whose family was involved in the civil-rights movement, became “intensely uncomfortable and uneasy by these comments,” the suit states.
The girl’s father complained to Principal Christopher Perdigao, who replied that Carnine was “old school” and that the best way to
solve the issue was to try and meet with him, the suit alleges.
However, that same day, Carnine, during a lecture on the Civil War, stated that “people didn’t like Lincoln because he was a (N-word) lover,” the complaint alleges. Carnine was “staring and smirking” at the plaintiff when he made the remark, according to the suit.
The girl’s father returned to the school with her mother and godmother to speak with school officials to protest the remarks. Assistant Principal Thomas Iannucci, while saying he would investigate Carnine’s alleged comments, also was dismissive of the complaints and said “there is no need to go to the press,” according to the suit.
The girl now fears for her safety at school. The family says Iannucci has not told the student or her family what occurred during the investigation into Carnine’s alleged remarks, according to the lawsuit, which says she has been “subjected to glares and hostile stares” from Carnine and Iannucci.
“Plaintiff has also suffered from sleep problems and anxiety since these incidents arose,” the suit states.