The first Black teacher hired in over 25 years at a predominantly white elementary school in southern New Jersey, has now filed a federal lawsuit, claiming she was abused on a daily basis by faculty.
According to NBC News, in 2016, when Tammy Jordan became a second grade teacher at Larchmont Elementary School in Mount Laurel, she was the first full-time Black teacher that had been hired there since 1990.
The May 29th lawsuit that Jordan filed is against the school, the school district, the board of education, and four former colleagues. In it, Jordan claims she was bullied by racist white teachers who excluded her and repeatedly made racist comments. She says the administration was also complicit, leaving her to face, “a daily fight for the opportunity to perform the duties of her employment like” her “similarly situated white” co-workers.
Jordan’s white colleagues reportedly taunted her for being hired as a result of affirmative action, and spoke down to her as if she was less intelligent than them, saying things like: “I would show you my lesson plans, but you won’t understand them anyway” and “can you even understand me?”
The fellow second grade teachers named as defendants — Kim Billings and Maira Medina, along with substitute teacher Victoria Ascuitto — would also allegedly refuse to talk to to her, and would jump up and leave whenever she sat at a table with them.
“Jordan stopped leaving her classroom, as every time she left her classroom, she was “subjected to abusive and hostile treatment,” the suit explains. And as a result she quit after her second year.
NBC cites, “Of the approximately 400 students enrolled at Larchmont in 2017-18, about 22 percent were black and 41 percent white, according to the New Jersey Department of Education. Among the school’s 39 teachers, 87 percent were white and 10 percent — about three teachers — were black.”
The frustrated teacher reported the harassment to principal, George Jackson, who is also Black. And while he admitted to there being, “issues of systemic racism at Larchmont Elementary School,” rather than assist her, he merely suggested she take a page from the movie, Hidden Figures, and be as stoic as the three Black female NASA employees who were forced to put up with segregation and pervasive discrimination at work.
Additionally, principal Jackson allegedly made excuses for the white teachers stating they, “don’t know what they are doing,” “don’t know what they’re saying” and “don’t mean nothing by it,” while also refusing to, “initiate prompt remedial measures.”
Left with no support, Jordan eventually ended up resigning at the end of the 2017-18 school year but says the hostile work environment has caused her to sustain permanent psychological injuries, and suffer from loss of income and benefits. The suit maintains that she deserves to be compensated for the way she was was made to feel “extremely humiliated, degraded, victimized, embarrassed and emotionally distressed.”