The superintendent of the Upper Darby School District is recommending the firing of the teacher captured on video last week using a racist slur against a parent after a minor car accident in a school parking lot.
“My recommendation to the board is for termination,” Superintendent Daniel McGarry said in a statement Tuesday.
But, McGarry said, the teacher has rights and “there is a legal process we must follow.” He said the teacher could choose to resign, go to arbitration, or request a formal hearing before the school board.
District spokesperson Aaronda Beauford said Wednesday that “a decision about whether to terminate could occur as early as" next Tuesday, if the school board calls a special meeting, “or as late as" the board’s regularly scheduled meeting Nov. 12.
The incident quickly blew up on social media after parent Rasheed Noel posted a video on Facebook last Thursday of a heated exchange with Drexel Hill Middle School teacher Renee Greeley after a fender bender in the school’s parking lot that morning.
Greeley, in the video, says Noel is “probably on welfare."
Noel responds: “It’s because I’m young and I’m black is the reason why you would say that.”
After sarcastically agreeing with Noel, Greeley says: “Always looking to milk the system. And you see me, a white woman, so you think I got money.”
She later calls Noel the N-word.
Greeley could not be reached for comment Wednesday. A teacher of computer tech and other subjects, Greeley has been with the district since 2008, Beauford said.
She was placed on unpaid administrative leave last week.
Labor law experts said the terms of the district’s contract with its teachers could affect Greeley’s employment outcome.
“If this is a long-term teacher whose performance has been stellar over the years, and she just lost it … I’m not at all sure that a firing would be upheld," said Deborah Willig, a lawyer who has represented teachers and public-school employees. “An arbitrator has latitude to impose lesser discipline.”
Melanie Masciantonio, president of the Upper Darby Education Association, said in an email that she could not comment on a personnel matter.
Greeley had also been working at the front desk of the Community YMCA of Eastern Delaware County but lost the job after the parking-lot incident.
“We separated ways with her,” said Michael Ranck, the Community YMCA’s president and CEO. "The reported actions … were not in keeping with our mission and values at the Y,” and the organization’s expectations for its staff.
In his statement, McGarry said, "We do not condone or support the comments or actions of the teacher in question.” He said the district has been fielding calls from community members and local and national media outlets since the incident.
The Upper Darby School District enrolls 12,500 students. Nearly half are black; one quarter are white; 15% are Asian; and the rest are Hispanic or multiracial.