- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 5, 2018

A high school teacher in New Mexico is now out of a job after students accused her of cutting a female Native American student’s hair and calling another a “bloody Indian” during a Halloween-themed assignment in October.

Witnesses told the ACLU of New Mexico that Mary Eastin, an English teacher at Cibola High School in Albuquerque, taunted two Native American girls during a pop quiz in which she promised to hand out marshmallows for right answers and organic dog food for wrong ones, The Washington Post reported.

Ms. Eastin, who was reportedly dressed as the “Voodoo Queen of New Orleans” for Halloween, first approached junior McKenzie Johnson and asked if she was a “bloody Indian,” apparently referring to the fake blood on McKenzie’s cheek, which was part of her costume, the student alleged.

Witnesses said Ms. Eastin then proceeded to call out another female Native American student with braided hair, asking her if she liked her braids. After the student responded in the affirmative, Ms. Eastin picked up a pair of scissors and cut roughly three inches of the student’s hair and then sprinkled it on the desk in front of her, students alleged.

The alleged incident prompted Leon Howard, the legal director of the ACLU of New Mexico, to send a letter to the superintendent of Albuquerque Public Schools last week, calling the act of cutting a Native student’s hair “unconscionable,” The Post reported.

“Anyone with even an iota of cultural awareness knows that in Native American cultures hair is sacred — particularly for women,” Mr. Howard wrote. “Beyond that, the cruel implications of Ms. Eastin’s actions hark back to the era of Native American boarding schools, when the cutting of Native students’ hair was a form of punishment inflicted by school masters in a racist attempt to strip children of their heritage and culture.”

Navajo Nation President Russell Begaye also called for “top to bottom” cultural sensitivity training in the district, The Post reported.

The district announced Monday that Ms. Eastin had been terminated as of Nov. 30.

“Accordingly, she will no longer perform any work for APS,” district spokeswoman Monica Armenta said. “No additional information will be shared, because personnel matters are confidential.”

The district will move to enlist “local, state and national experts” to help with cultural competency training, Ms. Armenta added, The Post reported.


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