Teacher intends to sue city over slavery lesson suspension

Posted: Updated:
FARMINGVILLE -

A Bronx teacher from Long Island is planning a lawsuit after being suspended for a controversial slavery lesson.

Patricia Cummings, of Farmingville, announced her intent to sue New York City, saying her life and reputation have been ruined.

The story was widely reported earlier this year after she was accused of singling out black students and stepping on their backs.

Cummings said the accusation came from a student who lied to reporters and wasn’t in class that day.

“I have been found guilty in the court of public opinion of being a racist,” she said.

Cummings says it all began when she played a clip from the movie "Freedom." It shows slaves sitting in close quarters. She says a student mocked it.

“The student said, ‘I could sit like that, that's not a problem,’” Cummings explained.

She says she asked for volunteers to come sit on the floor in close quarters.

Cummings says she never stepped on or touched any of the students.

According to a Department of Investigations report, she was only accused of putting her knee into two students’ backs to get them to sit closer together. After speaking to a dozen other students, the DOI has since concluded that the accusation that Cummings kneed a student "has not been corroborated and is unsubstantiated."

Cummings’ attorney says this is a blatant case of reverse discrimination and that the city and those responsible need to be taught a lesson.

“I'll never have a fair shot at anything. I don't know if I'll ever be in a classroom again. I worked really hard to be a teacher,” said Cummings.

The DOI did conclude that Cummings used "poor judgement" in the lesson because the Department of Education "does not encourage re-enactments of historical events where students take on the roles of victimized people."

Cummings is currently suspended with pay pending a hearing later this month. The city did not respond for a request for comment.

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