Riverside School Board Vote to Fire Native American Imitation Teacher – San Bernardino Sun

Riverside School Board voted to fire North High School math teacher who was videotaped in October wearing a fake Native American beanie and danced around her classroom in a viral cell phone video, a source in the Riverside Unified School District has confirmed.

At the board meeting on Thursday, February 3, Chairman of the Board Brent Lee reported that the board had voted in closed session to adopt a “dismissal fee” for an employee certificated. He identified that employee by a single number, as everyone in the auditorium clapped.

The vote was 4-1, with Lee and trustees Kathy Allavie, Angelo Farooq and Tom Hunt voting yes. Board member Dale Kinnear, a former North High principal, voted no.

The source confirmed the staff member involved in the vote was the North High math teacher who was included Paid administrative leave after the video goes viral.

School district spokeswoman Diana Meza said Thursday afternoon, before the meeting, that teachers were still taking paid leave. On Friday, February 4, Meza said teachers are taking unpaid leave.

The district did not name the teacher, and Meza on Friday declined to identify her.

In a text message statement, Meza wrote that “teacher disciplinary cases were initiated by the Board of Trustees during non-public sessions…” She wrote that the board’s actions during the closed session were reported to the Board of Trustees. reported after the board reconvened in an open meeting, but “staff names were not used – reports were made using employee numbers. ”

Such actions trigger a “usually lengthy” disciplinary process, Meza wrote, saying the process is designed to protect employees’ privacy and right to hear and appeal decisions.

“We understand that there is public interest in action that may be taken regarding teacher discipline, but the District must respect statutory process and may not disclose information about student disciplinary cases. specifically,” she wrote.

The video has sparked widespread anger in Native American communities and drawn widespread criticism, with many calling the action in the classroom racially insensitive and cultural mockery. of Native Americans.

In the video, the teacher appears to be sharing the word “SohCahToa,” a mnemonic device used to help students memorize advanced math concepts.

When the video starts, the teacher asks the students: “I don’t know? Tomahawks? Is that right?” while moving both arms up and down, as if she was chopping something. She danced at the front of the classroom, as some students laughed, repeatedly chanting “” SohCahToa.”

Some have defended the teacher, saying she didn’t mean any harm and was trying to help students learn.

However, the California Mathematical Council said in a statement it was “appalling” that the teacher appeared to be “appropriating Native American culture in a disgusting attempt to teach philology.”

The board wrote: “We understand that teachers can use a mnemonic device, Soh-Cah-Toa, to assist students in memorizing trigonometric ratios. “However, it is NEVER appropriate to fabricate or perpetuate stories that are disrespectful and appropriate to a culture or community.” The board said that the “pattern of behavior” that perpetuated violence against Native American students and reinforced “negative stereotypes is simply not true.”

In the weeks that followed, district officials announced plans to expand diversity, equity, and inclusion training and implement Measures to ensure events like Thanksgiving are taught in the classroom in their exact historical context. In November, the district introduce local Native American leaders to share ideas on how the district can make teaching more sensitive and engaging with Native American students.

Dee Dee Ybarra, director of the American Indian Movement SoCal and a Pomona resident, has been following the discussion since the video exploded on the internet. She and others attended Thursday’s board meeting.

Confident that the decision involved the North High school teacher, Ybarra said she and others praised the trustees for their decision during a period of public comment.

“We all clapped,” Ybarra said Friday.

“I’m really glad they listened to us,” she said. “We have been there since day one. We asked for this. ”

Ybarra said teachers “have to know that it’s offensive,” especially when discuss racial sensitivities followed by the killing of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer in May 2020, sparking nationwide protests. Ybarra called the action in the classroom “totally wrong.”

During the meeting, Ybarra told the council members that the vote must have been a difficult decision.

“I knew there was a good chance there was going to be an appeal,” Ybarra said, according to videotape of the meeting. “And I hope that this decision will come into effect.”

She added, “This can’t be over. We have a lot to do with house cleaning and, if you want, we can provide you with brooms, sweep those schools, make them nice and clean… This won’t be acceptable anymore. . ”

https://www.sbsun.com/2022/02/04/riverside-school-board-votes-to-fire-teacher-who-mimicked-native-americans/ Riverside School Board Vote to Fire Native American Imitation Teacher – San Bernardino Sun

Tom Vazquez

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