A high school teacher who has worked in the New York school system for 17 years has sued her school district. She is alleging that she has faced multiple instances of racism during her tenure as the only black teacher working for the district.
Andrea Bryan has served as an English teacher during her career. She filed the lawsuit in the Eastern District of New York on Dec. 19 against Long Island’s Commack School District, NBC News reported Sunday. Bryan is claiming she was discriminated against by both students and faculty.
One of the instances brought forth in the lawsuit details a white teacher who allegedly told Bryan that food inside the English office was meant “for whites only,” the lawsuit says. In another case, the same teacher, dealing with the play “The Crucible,” allegedly asked her to “translate slave talk for me,” a comment that Bryan says “humiliated, degraded and embarrassed” her, NBC News reported.
Bryan also reportedly filed an official complaint following that comment in 2015, resulting in the teacher being demoted.
She added in the lawsuit that the school kept her from having a dedicated classroom, something she says is a “privilege that had been afforded many white junior teachers.”
Bryan described how she was completely ignored by her colleagues after being in a serious car accident in 2017. And in another racially charged incident, she alleges in the court documents that she was given only a bottle of hand sanitizer as a secret Santa present—for which the spending limit was $50—because her co-workers thought she was “dirty.”
Bryan also allegedly faced “racial jeers, insults and taunts” from students, including when one called her “Aunt Jemima” in 2016, she says in the lawsuit.
A spokeswoman for the school district told NBC News that the district can not publicly comment on Bryan’s claims but said each of them had been “investigated, and, to the extent appropriate, promptly addressed.”
“The District takes any allegation of discrimination seriously and, as a matter of policy and practice, acts swiftly in response to any claim,” the spokeswoman added.