Four white Philadelphia teachers filed federal race-bias lawsuits that accuse a black principal of creating a hostile work environment and suggesting they were unfit to teach black children.
The teachers work at a predominantly black elementary school that has a recent history of racial tension. Their lawsuits say that a former principal had them read an article that said “white teachers do not have the ability to teach African-American students.”
The teachers also allege that the principal, Charles Ray III, and others undermined their work by reprimanding them, randomly changing their room assignments and letting black teachers ignore rules that their white counterparts had to follow. Ray also retaliated when they filed union grievances, they said.
Racial tensions among staff at Thomas Mifflin Elementary School have simmered before.
A white principal left about four years ago amid a chorus of complaints from black parents. One mother testified at a City Council meeting in December 2007 that she had heard the administrator say Muslim students looked like “flying nuns,” according to news reports.
Mifflin currently has about 270 students, 86 percent of them black and 85 percent of them poor, according to school district data.