Target: Robert W. Runcie, Superintendent, Broward County Public Schools
Goal: Fire a teacher who called a boy “terrorist,” “Taliban,” and “rag-head” in front of her class.
A teacher who made racist comments to a 14-year-old student in front of her entire class was recently suspended for five days. Maria Valdes, who has been working as a Broward Schools teacher for 11 years, referred to a young Lebanese-Moroccan student as a “rag-head Taliban” when addressing him in front of the class, even calling him a terrorist when he entered the classroom. The boy, Deyab-Houssein Wardani, did not even understand the teacher’s accusations and had to ask his parents what the word Taliban meant.
When the boy’s parents confronted the school board, little was done to reprimand Ms. Valdes. While she has been suspended for five days without pay, she will be allowed to continue teaching her classes as usual upon her completion of a diversity training workshop. This punishment is little more than a slap on the wrist, and not at all proportionate with the gravity of the situation. School administrators admitted the punishment was lax, citing union agreements as the reason.
Each day, students, particularly minorities, are bullied by their peers. While this is to be expected from children, an adult in a place of authority should know well enough that such behavior is inappropriate. Not only did Ms. Valdes personally insult a student, but she set an example for other students that bigotry and rudeness are acceptable in a school environment. This demonstrates that Ms. Valdes lacks the maturity and self-control necessary to present herself as a mentor for younger generations. Sign the petition below to denounce the school board’s lax reprimand, and demand that Valdes is fired immediately.
Dear Mr. Robert W. Runcie,
Maria Valdes, a teacher at Cypress Bay Hight School, recently made racist remarks to a 14-year-old student in front of her entire classroom. She referred to a Lebanese-Moroccan boy, named Deyab-Houssein Wardani, as “Taliban,” “terrorist,” and “rag-head.” When the boy’s parents complained, Valdes was suspended for five days and forced to attend a diversity training course.
While it is expected that children will be bullied by their peers at school, children and parents should not have to worry about this abuse coming from an authority figure. Not only did the teacher personally insult the boy, but by doing it in front of other students, she projected the impression that racism is acceptable. We, the undersigned, demand that this woman is fired immediately as she is clearly unfit to serve as a mentor for younger generations.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Hophua via Creative Commons