Minutes into the school day last Thursday, Deborah Perkins got a disturbing phone call from her 12-year-old daughter.
“She was almost to tears on the phone,” recalled Perkins.
Perkins’ daughter admitted she was talking during the morning announcements at JHS 234, which is not allowed, but it was the teacher’s attempt to quiet her down that struck a nerve.
“She told me, ‘My teacher called me and asked me if I was a monkey.’ She was, humiliated,” said Perkins holding back tears. A young black girl, humiliated, says Perkins, by her white teacher in front of her entire 7th grade class. “That evening, I had a conversation with my child, telling my child she is beautiful, and she said ‘No, Miss thinks I’m a monkey. I look like a monkey,’” said Perkins, seen below.
Perkins met with the teacher and the assistant principal and demanded the teacher be reprimanded. “It’s a racist word, it’s a racist question. Even if the teacher feels that, I didn’t mean it that way,” said Perkins. “She told me, ‘My teacher called me and asked me if I was a monkey,’ said Deborah Perkins, the mother of the student.
Perkins says all she got was half-hearted apology. So, she contacted longtime community activist Tony Abbott who told PIX 11, “We have a lot of great teachers in our school system but this we cannot have. We cannot have an individual who is so insensitive to the culture of another person to call them a monkey. So what we are asking the DOE (Department of Education) is she has to lose this job. Send her back to get re-educated somewhere else and not in the public school system in New York City.”
As school let out, we tried to talk with the school principal about the incident who said, “It was reported to the Special Commissioner Office and it’s pending disciplinary action.”
When PIX 11 asked if this incident surprised her or concerned her, Principal Susan Schaeffer answered, “I can’t comment.” The Department of Education would not release the name of the teacher involved in the incident, saying the case is under investigation.