Hair-cutting teacher resigns; school district pressured to make real changes
This story has been corrected since its first publication.
The New-Mexico teacher who cut a Native student’s hair and called the Navajo student a “bloody Indian” no longer works for the school district as of Nov. 30.
On Tuesday, KUNM confirmed with the teacher, Mary Eastin, that she resigned from the school district.
Albuquerque Public Schools released a statement on Monday evening saying they “severed” their relationship with Eastin.
“The employment relationship between APS and the teacher involved in the incident at Cibola High School was severed on 11-30-2018. Accordingly, she will no longer perform any work for APS. No additional information will be shared because the personnel matters are confidential.”
The decision comes the week after students, Johnson and her parents, concerned parents and community members attended the school district’s equity and inclusion meeting, and spoke of the incident.
Parents of both high school students were informed about the decision by Superintendent Raquel Reedy.
The mother of McKenzie Johnson told the Albuquerque Journal that this was a “short-term win.”
On Halloween at Cibola High School, the 17-year-old was in her AP Literature class where the teacher was role playing the “Voodoo Queen” Marie Laveau. The teacher gave students treats for answering questions; marshmallows given for correct answers and dog food given for incorrect answers. The high-school teacher cut a student’s braid with scissors without her consent. A little later in class, the teacher asked Johnson, “Okay, what are you supposed to be? A bloody Indian?” The Navajo student dressed up as Little Red Riding Hood with a red scratch on her cheek.
Johnson’s parents are still focused on making systematic changes pertaining to cultural sensitivity and cultural awareness trainings and policies within the school district.
Navajo Nation President Russell Begaye agreed and wants “immediate and mandatory” training to prevent more incidents.
ACLU of New Mexico sent a document of policy changes to the superintendent last week demanding the district take further actions to prevent students of color from being subject to a racially-hostile environment.
“Schools should be places where all students feel safe and welcomed, not subject to abuse by teachers entrusted with their education and wellbeing,” said Leon Howard, ACLU of New Mexico legal director. “APS has an obligation to ensure students are not forced to endure humiliating and harmful experiences like these.”