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White Chicago Teacher Who Hung a Black Doll From Cord In His Classroom Gets Suspended

White Chicago Teacher Who Hung a Black Doll From Cord In His Classroom Gets Suspended
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A white teacher at the Chicago high school where Michelle Obama was a student has been suspended. Because he and an African-American colleague argued over him hanging a black doll from a cord in his classroom, the city’s school administration took action against him.

The Chicago Public School district has suspended Carl Pasowicz, a World History teacher at Whitney Young Magnet High School, for hanging a black doll by its neck with a thin cord in his classroom.

The teacher argues with one of the school’s Black teachers about how inappropriate it was to hang the doll in the classroom in front of students in a profanity-laced video obtained by the Chicago Sun-Times. Following the incident, the school’s principal, Joyce Kenner, issued a statement to the community.

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Pasowicz allegedly noticed the doll, dressed in a blue football uniform, in his class on Monday, March 28, and decided to fasten it to the class projector screen’s cord in the hopes that whoever lost it would see it and reclaim it, according to the email.

When the second teacher, who teaches Black History, saw the doll dangling from the string, he immediately associated it with a lynching and confronted the teacher in front of the class.

The exchange between the teachers escalated quickly, according to a video taken by a student in which neither teacher is in frame.

“Stupid,” one teacher says to the other.

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“You’re f- – – – n’ stupid,” responds the other. “And you’re [inaudible] even more stupid.”

“Shut up!” he exclaims. “Shut up!” I exclaimed. “He’s wrong,” he said as he turned to the students.

“You’re completely wrong!” the other teacher shouts in return. “I’m not going to stand up in here with you, … you making me feel uncomfortable…”

The clip ends after the student rushes off, leaving the two educators.

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Two days after the incident made headlines and flooded social media, Chicago Public School officials took over the investigation of the incident and removed Pasowicz from his instructional duties at the school.

A CPS representative said the teacher will remain on suspension for the entire duration of the investigation.

Kenner wrote a correspondence to teachers, students, parents, and the school’s community stakeholders, saying administrators and CPS’ Title IX office are working in concert “to not only investigate and respond but to elevate student voice in the process.”

A listening session for the students was scheduled to allow the young people to express their concerns to the district officials.

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She said, “This session represents just the first step in our ongoing partnership. They will be back in our building in the coming days to ensure due process and resolution.”

William Schetz, a sophomore at Whitney Young High, which is described as “25.1 percent African American, 24.4 percent Latino, 16.7 percent Asian, and 29.3 percent Caucasian,” said to ABC 7 reporters the teacher should have considered his actions before stringing up the doll.

“He definitely should have thought about it because that could be really sensitive, especially being an African-American doll,” he said. “And even something like that, like suicidal, could trigger suicidal thoughts.”

Pasowicz is represented by the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU). The union tweeted on Wednesday, March 30, that it understands the role of the city is to protect students as well as teachers.

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“And any definition of ‘safety’ must include creating and reinforcing an environment of equity and inclusion for all students, staff, and faculty of color,” the series of tweets began.

The second tweet called on the mayor to weigh in, saying she “has a responsibility to provide a safe space for every member of our school communities, which is especially important in a district that serves a student population that is 90 percent Black and Brown children.”

“We understand the investigation at Whitney Young is ongoing, but practices that mitigate the harm of racial biases must also be ongoing and consistent in our schools. And any definition of ‘safety’ must include creating and reinforcing an environment of equity and inclusion for all students, staff, and faculty of color.”

One mother, who is also a public school administrator, took to Facebook to blast the teacher.

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Kimberly Ann Coleman wrote in a post, “I have been furious all day. She has told me he has made insensitive racial comments before in class. When he was confronted by an African-American teacher about it an argument ensued- because, of course, he saw nothing wrong with it. I’m livid. I’m mad as hell. But most of all I’m determined that she will never step foot in this class again as long as he is the teacher.”

The community outrage shifted into advocacy as some moved to drum up quantitative evidence showing stakeholders, including students, wanted him removed from the campus.

Some started a petition to not only suspend the teacher but to permanently terminate him, claiming for years Pasowicz, “has been known to spread misinformation and bigotry throughout Whitney Young High School as a world history teacher. He has been the perpetrator of hate crimes and microaggressions against students and teachers alike.”

Organizers of the petition claim some of the microaggressions including asking a student, the only Asian child in the class, to translate a video of a baby speaking Chinese; making transphobic statements to trans students; mocking the Black Lives Matter Movement; and saying if he were “a police officer, he would commit police brutality.”

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Students also state after his altercation with the Black History teacher he uttered, “people are too sensitive these days,” after refusing to remove the handing doll from the projector cord.

The petition has surpassed its goal of 1000 signatures.

Whitney Young parent Michelle Donegan is also asking for the teacher to be removed from the school. Donegan, a white mother to a biracial student, says she wants CPS to move aggressively to get rid of the teacher.

“He knows what lynching is. He knew what hanging that doll would have represented,” she said. “But did he give any thought to how it was affecting the students?”

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