NJ Middle School Teacher Calls Students ‘N Word’

Bruce Bassetti was suspended last week after heatedly reprimanding students at Penns Grove Middle School in Southern New Jersey.
Bruce Bassetti was suspended last week after heatedly reprimanding students at Penns Grove Middle School in Southern New Jersey.

By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Correspondent
@StacyBrownMedia

A science teacher at a New Jersey School has been suspended with pay after allegedly calling students the “N-word.”

Bruce Bassetti was suspended last week after heatedly reprimanding students at Penns Grove Middle School in Southern New Jersey.

“I’m tired of these n—–s,” he allegedly said.

The incident has left parents fuming mostly because the school district officials refused to address the matter with them and guidance counselors haven’t offered any services to the students in the wake of the incident.

“We want our babies to be able to come to school in a safe and productive space, and get an education,” said Walter Hudson, the chairman of the National Awareness Alliance and former Penns Grove (N.J.) school board member.

Attempts to reach Bassetti were unsuccessful.

District Superintendent Zenaida Cobian said the incident was “a personnel matter.”

“School districts in New Jersey must abide by NJ Law, board policies and teacher negotiated agreements when dealing with personnel matters,” Cobian said.

When pressed as to why she won’t take a meeting with concerned parents, Cobian said she’d schedule a meeting, but the incident would not be discussed.

With approximately 450 students in grades 6 to 8, the middle school’s minority enrollment is more than 70 percent, much higher than the state average of 54 percent.

It’s diversity score of 0.67  means there’s little chance that two students selected at random would be members of a different ethnic group.

Scored from 0 to 1, a diversity score closer to 1 indicates a more diverse student body.

At a subsequent school board meeting, solicitor Mark Toscano told parents that board members were aware of the situation involving Bassetti but could not discuss personnel matters.

Hudson said the district should do a better job of vetting personnel.

“At the end of the day, the kids are affected,” Hudson said.

“This is why the issues exist in our community because of leadership like yours.”

Later, Hudson continued, even writing an open letter to the District. “We send our children to school to get an education and learn to be future leaders in the world. We put our tax dollars into public schools, trusting that the institutions will make sure expectations are carried out in a safe environment,” Hudson said. “It’s obvious expectations are not being met in the Penns Grove-Carneys Point School District.”

Among the many concerns raised by Hudson were whether there was any outreach from the guidance department in terms of providing counseling to all students involved and did the principal or superintendent contact parents to make them aware of the alleged matter that took place.

“Parents in the community say such outreach did not happen,” Hudson said.

“You can reach out to students who were impacted and inform their parents without giving compromising details,” he said.

Double standards and a lack of transparency from school leadership is very disappointing and it’s disconcerting that when teachers make accusations against black and brown students, there are often no investigations – students are automatically suspended, or police are called in, Hudson stressed.

“When black and brown students say a teacher has used a racial slur, district leadership loves to fall back on policies that undermine the safety and welfare of students, making it seem like those students are wrong for standing up for themselves — as if they are lying,” he said.

“We pay $109,147 to a principal who gives good evaluations to some bad teachers,” Hudson said. “If this teacher comes back, civil unrest will follow.”

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About Stacy M. Brown 223 Articles
A Little About Me: I'm the co-author of Blind Faith: The Miraculous Journey of Lula Hardaway and her son, Stevie Wonder (Simon & Schuster) and Michael Jackson: The Man Behind The Mask, An Insider's Account of the King of Pop (Select Books Publishing, Inc.) My work can often be found in the Washington Informer, Baltimore Times, Philadelphia Tribune, Pocono Record, the New York Post, and Black Press USA.

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