The Camden Board of Education has agreed to settle for $500,000 after a teacher forced 15 students to eat lunch off of tray liners on the floor. This was done as a punishment for the 15 predominately hispanic students. Even the students who were not present on the day were subject to the abuse as well. The punishment was administered after one of her students spilled some water while attempting to change the water jug in the cooler. In this community, there is high population of both African-American students, as well as Hispanic students. This punishment prompted the African-American students to taunt and poke-fun at the students sitting on the ground, further aggravating the tension between the African American and Hispanic populations in the community.
Although it is not proven whether or not the punishment was racially motivated many believe that the teacher Theresa Brown specifically targeted the Hispanic students. When another teacher, Jose Rivera found out about the punishment that the teacher had administered he quickly prompted the students to tell their parents. He also instructed the parents to contact the school board. Soon after Jose was fired from his position for “conduct unbecoming of a board employee.” Jose sued and was awarded a $75,000 settlement, $50,000 of which went to his Lawyer, Alan Schorr. Alan Schorr also represented the 7 of the 15 children who sued the school. The 7 students were awarded a total of $500,000. Schorr will get $220,000 and the children will all split $280,000 which is equivalent to $31,428 each. The retired principal left off with this comment, “We apologize to the parents. We apologize to the children. We apologize to the community… We’re regretful this action took place in one of our schools.”