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.
In the filed affidavit, Riccardo stated that Zanca asked him after a meeting with Flanagan, “Did you see his big lips quivering?”
Meanwhile, Hightower was so turned off from her experience at Pan American that she has decided to stop teaching, “I’m leaving teaching altogether, knowing that this system is in place, and knowing that no matter what I do, someone can still fire me for something I can’t change, is very disappointing,” she told CBS.
Hightower and Flanagan have since filed a complaint with the DOE’s Office of Equal Opportunity (OEO).
According to the third teacher, Lisa-Erica James, who was tenured, she submitted her resignation because Zanca eliminated the theater program she oversaw, “We’re the only African-American teachers and all three of us have left — which means there is no African-American teachers at the school when over half the population of the students look like us,” James said.
The growing outcry over Zanca’s antics have also led to an online petition at Change.org, which has thus far garnered nearly 1,200 signatures demanding the educator’s ouster and is sponsored by BK Nation and joined by the United Federation of Teachers (UFT), the Movement of Rank-and-File Educators, the social justice caucus within the UFT; the New York Collective of Radical Educators (NYCoRE); and the International Socialist Organization.
According to the New York Board of Education, Zanca has a clean record with no prior complaints lodged against her.
2. HAPPY CHILDREN=QUALITY PARENTING. We don't always see eye to eye on everything and that's normal. We're human beings. But we come together and do it right for what's important, the kids. We are not enemies, we are parents. And we are parents 1st. S/O to @monyettashaw for making Mason's bday memorable. S/O to @itscrystalsmith at home taking care of our other lil' Prince. ❤️❤️❤️ THIS IS WHAT CO-PARENTING LOOKS LIKE. #Blessed #Happy #AboveTheDrama #BiggerThanUs
2 of 31
3. So happy to finally be able to share with you all that I’m the new Global Brand Ambassador for @Revlon! Follow my day on RevlonSnaps. Yay! Choose Love, Everybody! #RevlonXCiara #chooselove #ad
7. Today was not easy..but by the grace of God we all got through it. Words cannot express our gratitude for all of your Prayers, Positive thoughts and Support for us throughout the years. Tommy will be missed but most certainly never forgotten...And PLEASE don't ask "Where's Martin?.." he was there too...just not in this picture. Lol! God bless you all.. #LoveConquersAll #MartinShow
7 of 31
8 of 31
9. West coast get ready for #RockyHorror. I will be live tweeting again. #letsdothetimewarpagain
9 of 31
10. #THEKEYS pre order yours now ... Available everywhere #NOV22 #WeTheBest 🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑
10 of 31
11. We about to ROCK at #KCABlackBall!! All for our life-changing effort to end 🌎 AIDS.
11 of 31
12. Today's #SNAPJACK is brought to you by @yazzthegreatest 😂😂😂💋💋💋
12 of 31
13. Damn girl you kinda old to be headed to the Go Go. You coming in at the age they leaving. LMAO
13 of 31
14. Daddy daycare B-Boxin with @acewellstucker @shopraisingace
14 of 31
15. #FBF Naviyd & URV "LIL MONSTERS"
15 of 31
16. HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ONE OF THE BIGGEST LEGENDS IN OUR HIPHOP HISTORY! @snoopdogg CONTINUED BLESSING AND LOVE FAMILY!!!!! REAL OG!
16 of 31
17. Thank you for a beautiful night VSU! Let's do it again! #HOMECOMING
17 of 31
18. Had a great time this morning with my familia Erica, Griff & Truth!!
18 of 31
19. Check out my interview on @essence facebook live. #inmyownwords #nycpromo #day2
22. Why me and @coryhardrict got the same pose... and notee... new mouth #naked
22 of 31
23. When my husband is my personal 'hype-man'! it kills me every time! 💜😂 #WHATNOW #lostfiles📷
23 of 31
24. Diggy Simmons
24 of 31
25. Hand full of @jacquieaiche 💙💎💍 @esnail_la 💅🏾
25 of 31
26. SuperSoulers! You can watch my interview with Carl Lentz live from my Facebook page, tomorrow at 11a ET| 8a PT. #SuperSoulSunday
26 of 31
27. 💋 .. When the friendship is easy like Sunday morning. ☀️
27 of 31
28. Sunday mornings are the best........... hugs and cuddles with my angel
28 of 31
29. #huggar16 #hellohuggars
29 of 31
30. My gym is everywhere!.. #RnBMoney #TheGeneral 📸: @twelvepastseven
30 of 31
31. Nothing I would rather be doing... Rocko setting up our movie, Romelō working on a puzzle & Laiyah singing and sharing all she's learning at school... I'm so grateful for the joy they've brought into my life ... Praying for peace , joy & love in the home of EVERY family ♥️ #HeadScarfPJSunday LOL 😂
31 of 31
Continue reading NYC Principal Allegedly Calls Black Teachers ‘Gorillas’