New Roads School of Santa Monica, Ca. prides itself on diversity and challenging students to question their “worldview” and “perspective.” However, while educating a student body that is nearly 50 percent of color, one Black teacher has alleged in a lawsuit that the school is not as progressive as it seems, per The Daily Beast.
In a lawsuit filed in LA Superior Court, former teacher Tiffany Wright claims she was subject to a hostile work environment and racial harassment resulting in a wrongful termination. She alleges she dealt with a mean load of racist insults and even threats. When she spoke up about the racism, she says she was told to shut up and “eat s**t.”
“As is true with many organizations that project a certain image or identity… New Roads was completely different from what it claimed to be. At the School, Plaintiff experienced almost the exact opposite of anti-racism, being confronted with absurd and offensive comments like ‘go back to Africa,” says the complaint.
Read more about her suit from The Daily Beast:
The former New Roads teacher said she eventually saw unequal treatment of teachers and students depending on their race. Wright alleges that a white, male co-worker told her to “go back to Africa” in September 2019, but said no action was taken against him because an administrator said the colleague “didn’t really mean it.”
Along with racially insensitive statements, Wright said that in one school presentation on the word “laugh,” a photo of an ape was placed next to an image of Vice President Kamala Harris, which was “jarring and racially offensive to many students and faculty members.” (The lawsuit also shows that images of an Asian baby and white man were included on the same slide.)
The school’s diversity coalition was dissolved in April 2021, per the suit. The following month, Wright says her contract was not renewed and she was abruptly placed on leave for the rest of the school year.
Her suit certainly presents a disturbing view of what it’s like to work at a place claiming to “represent the voices of everyone in the community.” According to a book written by Paul F. Cummins, the school’s curator, New Roads was born from the desire to provide students of all colors and tax brackets with an education model centered on progressive education and community service. Professional artists were invited to teach classes in the arts, students were sent to do workshops on social justice and privilege and the overall appeal of the school screamed liberal, per the Washington Post. From this school emerged Inaugural and National Poet Laureate Amanda Gorman.
“New Roads democratizes access to its exceptional education that not only prepares students for college, civic engagement and careers but also teaches them to embrace the full spectrum of humanity,” said the head of the school, Luthern Williams, via WashPo.
The school’s values are ideal for guiding students especially given the political climate. Yet, Wright’s claims suggest the administration responsible for implementing those values don’t exactly embody them.