PENNS GROVE, N.J. (CBS) — Parents are asking tough questions of school administrators over what they are prepared to do to fight a controversial teacher’s reinstatement, while dealing with other issues involving race. As it stands right now, the Penns Grove-Carney’s Point Regional School District cannot legally fire the science teacher who allegedly muttered a racial slur in the classroom, but at the board’s meeting Monday, the school administration said it is doing everything in its power to get him out.
“It’s toxic, intolerable and has no place in our district,” school board president Vicki Smith said.
That’s how the Penns Grove-Carney’s Point Regional School District described the language that a Penns Grove Middle School science teacher is accused of using. Bruce Bassetti remains on administrative leave after allegedly muttering the N-word under his breath while in the classroom.
Bassetti denies the allegations and a state arbitrator ruled for the seventh-grade teacher to keep his job.
“The board collectively stands by the position to fight to seek to vacate there’s appalling and offensive decision,” Smith said.
The school board is now seeking to vacate the arbitration award in superior court, something the NAACP president of Salem County was happy to learn.
“As long as they continue to do what they’re supposed to do, everything is going to be good,” said Salem County NAACP President Nelson Carney Jr.
But even with the school board’s attempt to appeal the decision, one parent wants more to be done.
“It’s time for you to get up out that office and start dealing with the issues in the school board. Madam president, you can bang that gavel all you want! I don’t care,” Penns Grove parent Walter Hudson said.
Hudson says the school board needs to do a better job of vetting teachers. The superintendent says she’ll continue to fight for her students.
“We’ll do what will be necessary to protect and safeguard our students,” Superintendent of Schools Dr. Zenaida Cobain said.
It’s unclear how long it will take for the superior court to make a decision, but for now, Bassetti will not be in any classrooms.