Patricia Cummings was a Bronx school teacher who gave a rather bizarre lesson on slavery. She was fired after, allegedly, standing on the backs of young black children during the lesson. Now, Cummings claims she was wrongfully terminated and demands the city to pay restitution in $1 billion.
According to WPIX, Cummings filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commissioner and is planning to file a civil lawsuit against many officials, including the principal of the school and even Mayor Bill de Blasio.
In a press conference, Cummings stated that she was wrongfully terminated and as a result, her reputation has been tarnished. She claims that she had been targeted due to her race, and that media coverage of the incident has since left her unemployable. She also plans to sue the New York Daily News reporter who first covered the story.
Cummings made headlines last year after an allegation that she walked on the backs of black students during a lesson on slavery. According to the New York Daily News, she wanted the children to understand what slavery felt like during that period.
One student claims that Cummings selected three black children to come to the front of the room. She then instructed the students to get on the floor, “She said, ‘You see how it was to be a slave? How does it feel?’”
In an attempt to diffuse the situation, one of the students made an uncomfortable joke that she felt fine. In response, Cummings then stepped on her back.
The incident was seen as wildly racist in a school that is 81% African American and Hispanic. After the incident, Cummings was reassigned to a position where she had no contact with her students.
“While the investigation has not been completed, these are deeply disturbing allegations, and the alleged behavior has no place in our schools or in society,” said Education Department spokeswoman Toya Holness, at the time.
Cummings, now claims that none of her students were traumatized during the lesson. A city investigation also found the claims of her stepping on the children’s backs as unsubstantiated. With the investigation now coming to a close, Cummings plans to enact her lawsuits soon.