TREMONT, the Bronx — A Bronx middle school teacher is being investigated after allegedly stepping on black students during a lesson about slavery in her social studies class.
Patricia Cummings, a teacher at Middle School 118: The William W. Niles School, is accused of singling out black students in her social studies class, telling them to lie on the floor, then stepping on them for a lesson on U.S. slavery and the triangle trade, the NY Daily News reports.
During the lesson, three black students were told to lie on the floor, and were then asked if they understood what it was like to be a slave, the Daily News reports.
“She put her foot on her back and said ‘How does it feel?’” one student told the newspaper, “ ‘See how it feels to be a slave?’”
One student said she felt fine, apparently prompting Cummings to step on her back and ask again, the paper reports.
Students at the school, reported to be 81 percent black and Hispanic and 3 percent white, said they were shocked by Cummings’ actions.
Following the incident, Cummings was reassigned away from children, according to Department of Education spokeswoman Toya Holness.
“While the investigation has not been completed, these are deeply disturbing allegations, and the alleged behavior has no place in our schools or in society. She has been reassigned away from students and we’re providing the school with additional supports,” Holness said.
On her website, Cummings expresses her dedication to teaching and working with students of diverse populations, and says she “promotes a caring, safe, and fair-minded environment.”
“I bring a passion to which I have a positive impact on students, not only through my teaching skills, but by serving as a role model. My sincere hope is that my students will not only remember my class, but will recognize the way it has made a difference in their life,” she included in her biography.
Cummings, who has worked in city schools for the past two years, and the school’s principal did not provide a comment to the Daily News.