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Teacher accused of calling student 'Jew boy' will keep job

November 21, 2011 |  2:18 pm

A La Cañada High School math teacher has been ordered to participate in sensitivity and diversity training following complaints that she used sexist and racist comments in her classroom, including calling a student “Jew boy.”

The allegations against Gabrielle Leko have roiled the tightly knit community, with parents lining up to criticize officials’ handling of the allegations against the teacher during the most recent school board meeting. As the district’s formal response circulated via email, some stakeholders said they remained deeply unsatisfied

“I am sickened, and really wish we could pull our kids out of this district,” said parent Amy Bernhard. “I am resentful that I have to devote my time and energy fighting this, a situation that should have been handled properly by the administration upfront, without our involvement.”

Kathy Hernandez, a former PTSA president at La Cañada High, said she feared the effect that Leko’s comments have had on her students, according to the Valley Sun.

“If I went to work and said any of the things Ms. Leko is accused of saying, I'd expect to be fired immediately,” she said. “To know that she not only harbors those thoughts, but says them to the very students she's supposed to be educating, is unconscionable. I'm relieved that my kids got through LCHS without having her as a teacher, and wish that others didn't either. Our students deserve to be taught by people who want the best for them, not those who put them down.”

Several people turned out at a school board meeting Tuesday night to lambaste the district for not acting quickly enough to resolve the case and for not doing enough to address racism and sexism. But many others have defended Leko, describing her as a talented teacher and dismissing the complaint as the work of overzealous parents.

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-- Megan O'Neill, Times Community News

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