NEW YORK (FOX5NY.COM) - February is Black History Month in the United States, so English teacher Mercedes Liriano Clarke of M.S. 224 in the Bronx felt it was vital to inform her students of the struggles people of color have faced in our country.
"[The principal] asked, 'Why are your students working on a black history project?' I said, 'Because it's Black History Month. I've always taught black history,'" Clarke said. "She said, 'You're an ELA teacher, you don't teach social studies, you don't teach humanities anymore.' I said, 'Black history is in every subject."
At a rally outside M.S. 224 Monday afternoon, teachers, parents, and activists came together to support the ELA teacher. Liriano Clarke claims that on February 7 Principal Patricia Catania tried to prohibit her from teaching black history.
"Black history will continue in my classroom," Clarke said. "Black history will continue at M.S. 224."
The Department of Education told Fox 5 that the principal has declined all media interviews at this time.
Juanita Murray, whose daughter attends M.S. 224, said she knows the principal well. She said she is surprised that these allegations would exist, especially at this predominantly black school.
"The principal, I have a personal relationship with her because I'm always here because of my daughter and stuff so it kind of shocked me because of the kind of friendly person that she seems to be," Murray said.
Some parents and teachers are calling for the principal to be fired or resign although one person called the controversy a "witch hunt."
A DOE spokesperson said that black history is an important part of the school's curriculum and that students are currently working on projects related to Black History Month. The DOE is investigating these allegations.