According to former teachers at Pan American International High School in Elmhurst, Principal Minerva Zanca used racial slurs in a closed-door meeting with Assistant Principal Anthony Riccardo before firing them.
According to the allegations, Zanca referred to the African-American teachers she was firing as “big-lipped,” “nappy-haired,” and “gorillas.”
Two teachers, John Flanagan and Heather Hightower, were preparing for tenure this year but were instead terminated. A third teacher, Lisa-Erika James, was let go due to budget cuts.
All three have filed a discrimination claim saying their firing were racially motivated.
“The allegations brought against Ms. Zanca are very serious and concern me deeply,” said Councilwoman Julissa Ferreras. “This is why I immediately sent a letter to Chancellor [Dennis] Walcott urging for an investigation into this matter as soon as I was notified about these allegation.”
DOE is looking into the claims.
“We are investigation the allegations,” said a department representative. “There are no prior cases for Principal Minerva Zanca.”
The group Building Knowledge (BK) Nation, which helped organize Monday's event, has also started a petition at change.org calling for Zanca's termination.
“It is not only important to have high standards for our public school teachers but we must also support the good ones, like these teachers, who are completely dedicated to their young people,” said Kevin Powell, president of BK Nation. “I find it unacceptable that a principal can engage in this kind of conduct without any repercussions.”