Former Virginia Beach teacher fired after lesson on racial stereotypes settles with school board

Virginia News

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — A Virginia Beach teacher who was fired after a lesson centering on racial stereotypes in 2018 has reached a settlement with the school division in federal court.

The teacher and the city school board simultaneously filed a notice of settlement Monday, Dec. 13, and asked for the case to be dismissed, according to federal court records.

Court records don’t specify the dollar amount or terms of the settlement.

WFXR’s sister station, WAVY, reached out to Virginia Beach City Public Schools (VBCPS) for comment. They provided this statement from the Yeng Collins Law Firm, which was retained by the school board in this case:

“The matter was resolved to the mutual satisfaction of the parties in light of the expense and inconvenience of trial.  The settlement terms are confidential.”

According to the federal lawsuit, Kempsville teacher Deborah Aho Smith was teaching a class in May 2018 about stereotypes of certain groups of people, including “Blacks,” “Asians” and “Hispanics” on large Post-It Notes hung in the classroom, WFXR’s sister station reported in 2019.

Some students wrote on the note describing Black Americans with phrases such as: “all Black people eat fried chicken,” “can’t swim,” and “Black people don’t succeed.” There were also some racial slurs. Some parents were upset by the lesson and said it was offensive.

Smith was fired a couple of months after an investigation by school officials and several hearings.

She later filed the $500,000 lawsuit in federal court, claiming wrongful termination.

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