White teachers say that students threatened and verbally abused them at predominantly black school
Students at a Charleston County school were so racially hostile that some teachers say they preferred teaching in prisons or serving during the Vietnam War, according to testimony in the first day of a federal lawsuit against the district.
Elizabeth Kandrac and other white teachers have said students at the predominantly black Brentwood Middle School threatened and verbally abused them.
Kandrac is suing the Charleston County School District, saying her complaints of harassment were ignored by her principal and the district.
"I was treated with much more respect at Lieber prison than I would ever dream of at Brentwood," said Elizabeth Wallace Jones, a former school nurse, said in testimony Monday.
Former teacher Edward William Mikell said he would rather "go back to Vietnam" than return to Brentwood.
But district officials say Kandrac was ill-prepared for the rigors of the teaching in one of Charleston's toughest schools.
"This is a case about a teacher who couldn't make it, who basically came up with another way to make some money," school district lawyer Alice Paylor told the jury Monday. Paylor also said Kandrac's complaints of racial hostility didn't surface until after she was told in spring 2004 that she would not be rehired.
Kandrac, who is seeking unspecified damages, claims she was the victim of racial discrimination and harassment, breach of contract and retaliation.
Kandrac's attorney Larry Kobrovsky called white former students to the witness stand to testify to their fear in the hallways of Brentwood. Kandrac also claims Principal Wanda Marshall ignored her complaints.
Kobrovsky, a former member of the Charleston County school board, said Brentwood was "a school out of control" and that he was embarrassed to repeat the language used by students toward his client.
Paylor said rough language was something Brentwood children could not shake.
"Cursing is an everyday thing in their homes," she said, adding there was no "magic pill" that makes them become "perfectly behaved students."
Kandrac vs. C.C.S.D.
White former teacher settles racial discrimination lawsuit