Photo: Latino Bias in Camden, New Jersey
The New Jersey School Board has agreed to pay $500,000 to several Latino students made to eat lunch off of the cafeteria floor for five days back in 2008.
The punishment was the result of a then fifth-grade student, from Camden’s Charles Sumner Elementary School, spilling some water on the floor from a water cooler and Vice Principal Theresa Brown punishing all those she thought were involved. The incident spawned several lawsuits including this one that resulted in the $500,000 settlement.
There were 15 students all Puerto Rican and from the same bilingual class that were singled out for punishment, that included students that were not in school on the day of the water spill. The lawsuit alleged that the students were told not to tell anyone otherwise they risked more time on the cafeteria floor.
The bilingual teacher, Jose Rivera, upon discovering the incident encouraged his students and their parents to speak out, he was then fired. Rivera filed a law suit against the school board and they settled for $75,000 in damages and he regained his job.
Seven of the 15 students will share in the $500,000 settlement, close to half of the proceeds will go to their attorney. Other students either did not participate in the lawsuit or settled directly with the school board.
Vice Principal Brown was transferred and is now Vice Principal of the Camden High School.