LOS ANGELES (CNS) - Supporters of a Los Angeles Unified School District teacher who is accused in a lawsuit of making racially charged remarks in class rallied outside his Brentwood school today, saying his comments were taken out of context and demanding that he be returned to the classroom.
Dozens of people gathered outside Paul Revere Charter Middle School and Magnet Center to show their support for history teacher Steven Carnine.
“I had him as my sixth-grade history teacher, and the whole time I had him he was not racist at all and he is probably the best teacher I have ever had,” 13-year-old Jamie Mazur told NBC4. “I think it’s completely unfair, because I’m sure that he didn’t actually say those things. … He’s such an amazing teacher he doesn’t deserve this.”
The lawsuit was filed last week by a parent identified only as Shawn B. for the benefit of his daughter, Maggie B., a student at the school. The suit alleges civil rights violations and seeks unspecified damages as well as a court order directing that the LAUSD provide accommodations to students “free from prohibited discrimination.”
Earlier this year, the girl — who is half-black and half-white — was assigned to an eighth-grade history class taught by Carnine, the suit says. On Jan. 16, the day after the birthday of slain civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Carnine handed out a questionnaire that asked about racial stereotypes, according to the plaintiff.
During the ensuing discussion, Carnine brought up the shooting of Michael Brown by former Ferguson police Officer Darren Wilson, the lawsuit states.
“In discussing the incident, Carnine said that the guy was a thug and he got what he deserved,” according to the suit, which alleges that the teacher also said, “Black people are judged for not being smart because they are not smart. A lot of them are just athletes.”
Carnine went on to say that if he was walking alone at night and there were two black men behind him, he was “immediately going to be scared and think they are either going to steal from me or hurt me,” the lawsuit alleges.
The teacher also allegedly said, “We all know Jews like to hoard their money.”
Supporters of the teacher have contended that the remarks were being taken out of context. They contend Carnine was leading a discussion about racial stereotypes and citing historical ethnic divides — not making racially charged remarks of his own.
“He’s a really good teacher and I don’t think that he would do anything like that,” student Rose Morris told Channel 4 outside the school.
LAUSD officials have said they were reviewing the lawsuit, saying, “District policy is adamant that all students are to be treated with respect. The safety of students is L.A. Unified’s highest priority.”