Teachers claim “hostile and racially charged” workplace at Florida middle school

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Two black teachers at Pinellas Park Middle want to transfer out of the Florida school because of a “hostile and racially-charged” work environment.

It all began with an after-school tutoring program, which was run by nine minority teachers in their efforts to help black students because they’d scored the lowest on this year’s state English language arts exam.

Open to any student seeking help regardless of race, the program was approved by principal Dave Rosenberger. But the problems began before it even got off the ground, according to the NAACP, which sent a letter to the district saying that the nine teachers were quickly accused by their white colleagues of being “racist” in favor of helping the black students.

“As a direct result of the perceived concerns and overt acts of hostility and racism, the nine teachers recanted their intent to participate,” the NAACP wrote in its letter.

Two teachers, Shawn McCoy and Keturah Mills, requested transfers “for fear of future overt and covert acts of racism and hostility and retaliation.” The letter said McCoy and Mills have suffered mental and physical anguish and goes on to suggest that others have also been hurt. “It is highly probable that those who have not come out publicly are fearful of retaliation.”

Blaming the dust-up on a lack of information, Rosenberger said the main concern among staff members was that the tutoring program would exclude struggling students of different backgrounds or other teachers who wanted to help.

“It became very clear that it was not exclusionary in any way,” he said, noting that the tutoring program is active and meets once a week with 27 students, who are mostly black, and six teachers.

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