A white middle school teacher is suing New York City after she was fired for forcing her black students to pretend to be slaves during a history class, claiming she is the victim of “reverse racism”.
Patricia Cummings allegedly told three students at a predominantly black and Hispanic school in The Bronx to lie down to illustrate conditions on a slave ship, after which she stepped on their backs to show “what it’s like to be a slave”.
Ms Cummings has been suspended pending termination from Middle School 118 in The Bronx, and is now seeking $120 million in damages – and her lawyer claims her suit could be worth $1billion.
Ms Cummings’ attorney has made the bizarre claims that the young teacher is a victim of reverse racism – and that this is preventing white parents from sending their children to Bronx schools, the Daily Mail reports.
“There is blatant racism and reverse discrimination in the public schools of New York City,” Cummings’ attorney Tom Liotti told New York Daily News. “This is why white parents do not want to send their children there.”
“The Bronx has been described by some as a ‘war zone’. White teachers who work there should get combat pay,” Liotti said.
Speaking to the New York Daily News earlier this year, students said that Cummings had singled out three black children and instructed them to stretch out on the floor in front of the class.
She then reportedly asked the trio:
“You see how it was to be a slave? How does it feel?”
According to the student, when one of the children said she felt fine, Cummings allegedly put her foot on the girl’s back and inquired again, “How does it feel? See how it feels to be a slave?”.
Ms Cummings was removed from the classroom and subjected to an investigation, after which she was suspended pending termination.
A spokesperson for the Department of Education said an investigation had found that Ms Cummings used poor judgment, and that her employment had been terminated based on this.
The spokesperson dismissed Ms Cummings’ lawsuit as “baseless”.
According to her LinkedIn page, Cummings has a Bachelors’ degree from Adelphi University and a Master’s degree in teaching from the State University of New York College of Old Westbury.
She was hired to teach seventh- and eighth-grade social studies at MS 118 in The Bronx in September 2016.
The student body at the school is 60 per cent Hispanic and 21 per cent black, and less than 3 per cent of the students are white.
Cummings’ Twitter page has been dormant since September 2017, but her final post consisted of a meme criticizing NFL players who opted to kneel during the national anthem.