It’s been almost five months since the New York City Department of Education launched investigations into two Bronx educators accused of racist acts, but the agency has yet to wrap things up. What’s worse, both teachers still have their jobs and could return to the classroom sooner than later.
In February, the New York Daily News reported on racist middle school teacher Patricia Cummings, who was accused of singling out African-American students and stepping on their backs during a humiliating class lesson on the Trans-Atlantic slave trade in January. Cummings, a social studies teacher at Middle School 118, allegedly instructed students lay on the ground before stepping on them to portray how horrible slavery was.
Cummings, 37, was ultimately removed from the classroom after the accusations against her went public. However, she remains on city payroll and could be back in the classroom when school starts back in September, according to the New York Daily News.
Like Cummings, Middle School 224 principal Patricia Catania, 49, still has her job and has kept her leadership position at the school despite claims of her racist behavior. Students and teachers alike accused Catania of fostering a “hostile environment” by singling out Black faculty and students. She was even accused of barring an English teacher from teaching lessons on Black history.
MS 224 educator Mercedes Liriano, who first lodged the complaints against Catania, said investigators have visited the school almost 50 times since news broke of the controversy.
“We all cannot believe that the DOE has dragged this out,” Liriano told the New York Daily News. “ … After all we have gone through this school year with such bad leadership, this shows that the DOE doesn’t really care.”
Both incidents sparked protests around the city and led Mayor Bill de Blasio to earmark $23 million for anti-bias training for city educators, according to the newspaper. Department of Education officials said the investigations like the ones facing Cummings and Catania could take several months to finish.
Through it all, both will be able to keep their respective $154,257 and $68,934 yearly salaries.
“Information about the allegations is being thoroughly gathered and reviewed so these cases can be concluded fairly and appropriately,” department spokesman Douglas Cohen said. “We take these allegations seriously and will ensure any necessary follow-up action is swiftly taken based on the findings of the investigations.”