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Santa Cruz County substitute teacher let go following racist rant

Santa Cruz County substitute teacher let go following racist rant

WATSONVILLE — As of Sept. 8, a Pajaro Valley Unified School District substitute teacher is no longer employed with the district following a racist, expletive-filled video that was shared on social media.

In an email, interim Superintendent Murry Schekman did not identify the teacher but said she worked at Watsonville High School over the summer and more recently was employed at Lakeview Middle School, where Sept. 8 was her last day.

A video that was posted to TikTok and Facebook Saturday after an apparent fender bender on Highway 1 shows the teacher becoming irate at the other driver, who is Latino and reportedly a Pajaro Valley Unified student, as he filmed her. The teacher spouted numerous profanities and told him that, despite having insurance, she would not disclose it because “I don’t trust you. You’re probably not even a citizen.”

On Monday, interim Watsonville High Principal Joe Gregorio sent a letter to families indicating that the matter was being looked into.

“Thank you to the families who have communicated their concerns regarding the viral social media post involving one of our former staff members,” he wrote. “Our district received the report over the weekend and is addressing the concern.”

Schekman said the video was brought to the Human Resources Department, which immediately began investigating it. He denounced the comments made in the video and wrote that the district is committed to equity for all.

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“PVUSD does not tolerate hate or racism,” he wrote. “Our classrooms must provide a safe gathering place for students to learn about our nation’s ongoing struggle with racism, acceptance, and the ideals of liberty and justice for all. We have a fundamental responsibility to actively ensure the safety, health and social-emotional well-being of students as they grow into thriving, engaged citizens of our community, the nation and the world.”

School board President Jennifer Holm addressed the video at Wednesday’s meeting.

“The behavior displayed was appalling, and the district took immediate steps to ensure that these kinds of actions are not represented in our classrooms or by our employees,” she said. “While this individual is no longer an employee of the district, I would encourage any staff, students or family members who feel they need emotional support in processing this incident to reach out to our wellness team.”