Friday, December 17, 2010

‘N Word’ Ed. Official Gets Fired, To Appeal by Sasha Austrie - Queens Tribune

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A School District 29 parent advocate who used the “N Word” to refer to parents in a school meeting earlier this year has been fired and is appealing his dismissal.

Ron Barfield, the family district advocate for District 29 in Jamaica, was recorded on May 27 using the “N Word” in a number of instances at a parent association executive board meeting at PS 134. The meeting was held to craft bylaws per the Chancellor Joel Klein’s regulations.

In the meeting, Barfield said the parent association should meet on Fridays because “niggers don’t like to come out on Fridays.” He closed the meeting with a reminder to the board: “Keep the niggers out.”

Barfield held his post since October 2007 and is one of 32 family district advocates throughout the City. A district family advocate’s responsibility is to assist parents if they still have questions after consulting with their parent coordinators or principals.

Felicia Galy, a former PA board member, who spoke against Barfield’s use of the “N Word,” said her initial reaction was “shock,” which turned into dismay when at a Nov. 18 hearing Galy said three members of the current PA were in support of Barfield’s return. She alleged that Lennon Murray, District 29’s superintendent, also supported Barfield.

As of press time, Murray and members of the PA did not return calls for comment.

William McDonald, a member of the NAACP and Community Educational Council for District 29, said the appeal is part of the process, but that the DOE has no interest in Barfield.

“This is a pattern,” McDonald said of Barfield’s behavior. He said Barfield has been ousted from Districts 16, 17 and now 29. McDonald said he has heard Barfield use the “N Word” on previous occasions.

“He uses it as a term of endearment,” McDonald said. “It disenfranchises parents,” he said. “His job is to empower parents.”

Matthew Mittenthal, a DOE spokesman, said though Barfield was terminated, a successor will not be named until the arbitrator makes a decision at month’s end.

McDonald said he found it interesting that the DOE was “holding the job for him.” He said the lack of a family district advocate is “a huge problem.”

“The parents are disenfranchised,” he said. “The community is disenfranchised. That is a big loss for the community.”

Though the NAACP is taking a wait-and-see stance, McDonald said Barfield would not be reinstated.

“Barfield will not be coming back to the district under any circumstances,” he said. “And if they are dumb enough to send him back, that is like declaring war on the community.”