A Bronx teacher fired for calling a student “Negro” says she was teaching the Spanish words for colors at a bilingual middle school, reports the New York Post.
Petrona Smith, 65, a black native of the West Indies, was fired in 2012 and hasn’t worked since. Now she’s filed suit.
She also was accused of calling seventh-grade students “failures,” but claims in court papers that she merely asked students who’d failed a test to move to the back of the room.
She denied calling the student a “Negro,” and explained to investigators that she was teaching a lesson about how to say different colors in Spanish and said the word “negro,” which is Spanish for the color black. She told her students that it was not a derogatory term and that the Spanish word for a black person was “moreno.”
She added that she’d been verbally abused by her charges, including being called a “f—ing monkey,” a “cockroach” and a “n—r,” but had never stooped to their level.
One seventh grader complained about Smith and three others agreed she’d insulted her students.