A white New York school teacher accused but then exonerated of putting up a racially offensive image in a classroom claims she was a victim of racial discrimination herself.
In 2019 an image circulated of a collage displayed in a classroom at Roosevelt Middle School in New York that sparked outrage among the community and school district officials.
The photo, part of a larger classroom display of teachers and students, showed a pair of nooses under a caption that said “back to school necklaces,” alongside the words, “Ha Ha,” “#YES” and a smiley face.
The school district blamed an “isolated group of teachers” for the collage and said “appropriate action” had been taken, according to The Daily Beast.
Years after the incident, Nancy Jones Doering filed a lawsuit against the school district, revealing herself as one of the teachers accused.
The lawsuit filed by Ms Jones Doering, obtained by The Independent claimed that she has been subject to “discrimination and harassment” based on her race following the incident.
In October 2022, Ms Jones Doering was exonerated by a Hearing Officer who ordered her to be reinstated as a social studies teacher at Roosevelt Middle School, situated in an area populated with more than 50 per cent Black or African American residents.
However, the teacher alleges that since the incident, she has been “living in constant anxiety, stress and daily fear to herself and her family.”
The lawsuit alleges that Ms Jones Doering’s car had been vandalised and that there had been “racist comments” written on a whiteboard stating “white supremacy is a hell of a drug.”
She also claims that after returning to the school she was put in an isolated office with no windows and that officials “stripped her of all her duties and responsibilities.”
Ms Jones Doering claimed in the lawsuit that she never created, displayed or assisted anyone in putting up “any racist collage.”
“[The] Defendants were very much aware of that since they knew who created the collage and who displayed it, but yet maliciously and intentionally publically made false statements about Plaintiff,” the suit stated.
The lawsuit went on to say that various media outlets had reported on the accusations and community members, such as “Reverand Mackey”, were encouraged to “publicly attack, defame, shame and harass” her.
Pastor Arthur Mackey J of a local church in Roosevelt spoke to outlets at the time after he was sent the picture of the collage, saying the image was “totally unacceptable” and is a “hate crime and racial discrimination,” CNN reported back in 2019.
The lawsuit states that on 6 February 2019, the Roosevelt Union Free School District was informed of the “offensive and racially infused” collage on display, but when administrators from the district visited and inspected the collage they “failed to remove it or instruct that teacher from removing it.”
Ms Jones Doering said in the lawsuit that the classroom where the collage was displayed was not hers, referring to it being in an “other teacher’s classroom.”
The suit claims that a day after, Ms Jones Doering entered the classroom to leave lesson plans there she “noticed the offensive nature of its content, and removed it from the classroom so that students and staff members are not exposed to it.”
She then allegedly placed the images in a locked cabinet in her classroom.
The next day, Ms Jones Doering was asked by the other teacher who allegedly had the collage in her classroom, to accompany her to a Human Resources meeting to represent her as her “union representative.”
However, following the meeting, they were both given letters of suspension and claimed the defendants “refused to provide any information regarding” this decision.
She claimed that the school district “falsely accused her of displaying the collage in her classroom, which is completely false and fabricated accusations,” the lawsuit said.
Ms Jones Doering also purports that she was accused of “interfering” with an alleged investigation into the collage by removing the offensive imagery and bringing “negative attention” to the school - which she claims was caused by tips to the media.
She is accusing the defendants of racial discrimination, retaliation, promoting a hostile work environment, intentional infliction of emotional distress, negligent supervision and defamation.
She is demanding a jury trial and various damages and to enjoin the defendants “from further discrimination, harassment and retaliation.”
The Independent has contacted Reverend Mackey and Ms Jones Doering’s attorney for comment. The Roosevelt Union Free School District has also been contacted via Facebook after they could not be reached by phone.