Brentwood Teacher Accused Of Racism

The parent of a biracial student at a Brentwood middle school is suing the school district alleging that teacher Steven Carnine repeatedly made racist comments. Photo courtesy of LAUSD.

BRENTWOOD—On March 18, a lawsuit was filed against the Los Angeles Unified School District by a Brentwood parent alleging that a teacher at Paul Revere Charter Middle School and Magnet Center made racially charged comments directed at his biracial daughter.

The parent, identified by the complaint as “Shawn B.,” argues on behalf of his daughter, Maggie, that the eighth grade history teacher, Steven Carnine, committed civil-rights violations.

Regarding the inflammatory incident in which Michael Brown, an unarmed Africa-American teenager, was shot to death by a Missouri police officer in November, Carnine allegedly taught the class that “[Brown] was a thug and he got what he deserved,” adding that “Black people are judged for not being smart because they are not smart. A lot of them are just athletes,” according to the suit.

In the history class of 36, there was reportedly one other African-American student in addition to Maggie.

Carnine is accused of saying that if he was walking alone and confronted two African-American males, he was “immediately going to be scared and think they are either going to steal from me or hurt me,” the lawsuit alleges.

He allegedly made the racially insensitive comments while tactlessly glaring and smirking at the only two African-American students in the class, making Maggie feel “intensely uncomfortable and uneasy,” causing anxiety and sleep issues, according to the suit.

Another instance of racism detailed by the lawsuit is Carnine’s alleged comment that “People didn’t like Lincoln because he was a (N-word) lover.”

Carnine is also accused of inciting anti-Semitism, with remarks such as, “We all know Jews like to hoard their money.”

The lawsuit seeks unspecified damages in addition to a court order obliging LAUSD to provide accommodations to students “free from prohibited discrimination.”

The school district stated to Canyon News, “The District has no comment on the lawsuit, which is being reviewed. The teacher is employed with LAUSD, but not currently in the classroom, pending an internal investigation.”

“District policy is adamant that all students are to be treated with respect.  The safety of students is L.A. Unified’s highest priority,” the school district added.

In response to the accusations, students and their parents rallied Monday outside the school in support of Carnine. A Facebook page and an online petition were created by one of Carnine’s students, Jamie Mazur, calling for the teacher’s reinstatement.

Students and parents rally in support of Carnine. Photo courtesy of Support Mr. Carnine's Facebook Page.
Students and parents rally in support of Carnine. Photo courtesy of Support Mr. Carnine’s Facebook Page.

Mazur writes, “The accusations of Steven Carnine being racist are false. It is unfair to punish a teacher for something he may or may not have even done. For reasons unknown, the person accusing him of these things is lying or may have their facts wrong. There is convincing proof and witnesses that just further support that Mr. Carnine never said anything racist.”

“As a former student of Mr. Carnine, I can honestly say that he was the best teacher I have ever had and was in no way racist,” Mazur claimed.

A young woman named Katie, claiming to be one of Carnine’s students, defended the embattled teacher writing, “[Carnine] was discussing these stereotypes with us in order to help us understand history and how different races were treated and sometimes still are. He said that SOME PEOPLE think that black people are not smart and only good at sports, and that Jewish people are known for being very wealthy. He taught us that these stereotypes are wrong and should not be used, but there are still many people in America who believe these stereotypes.”