Teacher: I Was Fired Over 'Central Park Five' Lesson

NYC educator says school officials feared 'riots'
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 8, 2016 10:20 AM CST
This June 25, 1990 artist's rendering shows opening statements in the Central Park rape trial.   (AP Photo/Marilyn Church, File)
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(Newser) – The Central Park Five were wrongfully convicted of a jogger's brutal rape and beating in a case that shook New York City 25 years ago. Now, a city teacher says she's been fired for creating a lesson plan about the case, reports the New York Daily News. Jeena Lee-Walker says she was fired from the city's High School for Arts, Imagination and Inquiry after the school told her to be more "balanced" in her approach to the case, which involved five black and Hispanic teens. Details of why the school felt the lessons were improper aren't spelled out, but Lee-Walker says school officials feared "riots" would result.

"I was stunned," she tells the newspaper. "These boys went to jail and lost 14, 18 years of their lives. How can you say that in a more balanced way?" Over the next 18 months, Lee-Walker was given poor performance reviews that she blames on her challenging of school officials. She was fired in May. "I felt abandoned and mistreated," she says. The students "were so engaged" and "really identified with the [Central Park Five]." Lee-Walker is suing the Department of Education and school administrators—who have yet to comment—alleging they violated her First Amendment right to discuss the case. (Read more Central Park stories.)

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