A New York City principal is under fire for banning black history lessons from being taught at the school she presided over, according to the New York Daily News.
Patricia Catania, the principal of Intermediate School 224 in the Bronx, is under investigation by New York City officials for creating a hostile work environment by targeting black students and teachers with abuse, according to the report.
Mercedes Liriano, an English teacher at the predominately black and Hispanic school, told the Daily News that Catania was “racist.”
“She’s trying to stop us from teaching our students about their own culture,” said Liriano.
Liriano told the paper that she teaches her sixth and seventh-grade students about the Harlem Renaissance and Fredrick Douglass, which is a part of the New York state curriculum.
“She said I’m not a social studies teacher so why am I teaching my students about black history,” she continued.
Students at the school told the Daily News that they were outraged over Catania’s alleged comments and actions and decided to confront her.
Savannah Villagomez, 11, a sixth-grader at IS 224, said she asked the principal why they couldn’t learn about black history and was met with a dismissive statement.
“She said we weren’t learning anything,” Villagomez told The News. “I was angry. She doesn’t know our history and she wants to stop it.”
Catania has been principal at the middle school since December 2016 but has worked for New York City schools for 26-years, according to the Daily News.
A spokesman for the Department of Education told the Daily News that students are working on Black History Month related projects that will be shown off at the end of the year.
A petition calling for Catania to allow the teaching of black history and culture has 71 signatures from students.
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Teddy is a multimedia journalist who serves as the culture and political writer for EBONY. His work has appeared in NBC's Owned and Operated stations, as well as DNAInfo, which covered local neighborhood news in New York City. He received his Masters in Journalism from the Craig Newmark School of Journalism at CUNY in 2017.