Minerva Zanca, principal of the Elmhurst, New York-based Pan-American International High School, is reportedly being accused of referring to a number of African-American teachers at her high school as “gorillas” that have “big lips and nappy hair.” Now Zanca’s alleged racially charged comments have raised the ire of school personnel and activists, who descended upon the N.Y.C. Department of Education on Monday to protest Zanca’s abusive language and unfair firings, demanding an immediate and unbiased investigation of the allegations, according to the Huffington Post.
The school’s assistant principal, Anthony Riccardo, reportedly filed an affidavit against Zanca containing the alleged charges. In the document, the educator accuses Zanca of spewing the racial slurs at Black employees after classroom-observation conferences this past year, which he claims were done privately but uttered loud enough so that he could actually hear.
Riccardo, who claims that Zanca attempted to fire him after he filed the affidavit against her, says that his colleague commented about one teacher saying she “looked like a gorilla in a sweater.” The educator then said that Zanca allegedly made a snide racist comment about another teacher’s hair, calling it “nappy,” then stating, “I could never have hair like that.”
Reportedly, Pan-American only had three African-American educators and now none of them are teaching at the high school.
Zanca reportedly called two of the teachers, John Flanagan and Heather Hightower, “poor performers.” Flanagan, who alleges that he has never received a bad rating in all of his teaching career, was baffled by Zanca’s assessment of his duties.
“For the past four years, I’ve gotten satisfactory ratings from the founding principal, and when she resigned, Minerva Zanca came on board, and basically targeted me from the very beginning and removed me from the school,” Flanagan said, according to CBS New York.