Photo Credit: Devin Lightner

The principal of Pan-American International High School, based in Elmhurst New York, is under fire for accusations that she called African-American teachers “gorillas” with “big lips” and “nappy hair.” Minerva Zanca’s racist slurs have incited a protest at the N.Y.C. Department of Education on Monday where teachers and activists demanded an investigation into her offensive language and alleged racially-motivated firings.

An affidavit was filed by Pan-American International High School’s assistant principal, Anthony Riccardo, against Zanca. He’s alleging that Zanca made racist comments against black employees and even attempted to fire him for filing the affidavit. He alleges Zanca said one teacher “looked like a gorilla in a sweater” and called another’s hair “nappy,” adding “I could never have hair like that.”

Zanca’s antics also extend to the firing of African-American teachers. She allegedly gave two African-American teachers, John Flanagan and Heather Hightower, poor performance ratings. Flanagan was shocked by the negative assessment, telling CBS New York: “For the past four years, I’ve gotten satisfactory ratings from the founding principal, and when she resigned, Minerva Zanca came on board, and basically targeted me from the very beginning and removed me from the school.”

Riccardo cites Flanagan in his affidavit, saying Principal Zanca mentioned Flanagan’s “big lips quivering” after a joint meeting. Both Flanagan and Hightower have filed a complaint with the DOE’s Office of Equal Opportunity.

There is also a petition on Change.org, with almost 1,250 signatures, demanding that Zanca is removed from her post as principal of the school. View it here.

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