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Queens Principal Faces Federal Lawsuit After Reportedly Targeting Black Teachers

Minerva Zanca allegedly hurled racist slurs at the school's three black teachers calling one "a gorilla in a sweater."

A federal lawsuit claims a former Pan American International High School Principal targeted the schools three African-American teachers, hurling racist insults and undermining their careers.

By the end of 2015, Minerva Zanca's first year at the Queens school, teachers John Flanagan, Heather Hightower and Lisa-Erika James were fired.

According to reports, the lawsuit, which was filed Thursday (June 9) against the city Department of Education claims Zanca said Hightower looked like "a gorilla in a sweater" and "could never have nappy f---ing hair" like her. She complained to Assistant Principal Anthony Riccardo--who acted as a whistle blower--about Flannigan's "big lips quivering."

Riccardo said Zanca, who still remains on the city's payroll acting as a guidance counselor at the Federick Ddouglass Academy IV Secondary School in Brooklyn, planned on giving poor remarks on the black teachers' lessons plans prior to seeing them. When Zanca arrived at the school in 2012, of the 27 teachers in total, three were black. As of 2015, all the school's black teachers have been fired.

Zanca's boss, District 28 Superintendent Juan Mendez is accused of turning a blind eye to Zanca's complaints, and not disciplining her. He still still remains on the job.  The 11-page lawsuit also alleges Zanca cut the school's successful theater program run by James alleging budget issues.

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Kerry Washington To Star In And Produce 'American Son' Netflix Adaptation

Kerry Washington's Broadway banger, American Son, will be making its on-screen debut with Netflix.

Steven Pasquale (The Good Wife), Jeremy Jordan (Supergirl), Eugene Lee (A Soldier’s Play) and Washington will be reprising their groundbreaking roles from the thought-provoking Broadway production. Kenny Leon, who served as the play's original director, will be directing the picture and producing the film alongside the former Scandal actress.

The 41-year-old made the announcement on Monday night (Jan. 21) while appearing on The Tonight Show With Jimmy Fallon, where she gushed over her role as Kendra and the play's exploration into an interracial families search for their missing son in a Florida police station.

I love you @jimmyfallon 😍 thanks for letting me come on @FallonTonight and share this thrilling news about #AmericanSonPlay 😍😍😍😍 https://t.co/5sk97I4Co6

— kerry washington (@kerrywashington) January 22, 2019

Netflix’s Vice President of Original Content Cindy Holland said in a statement, “We are honored to work with Kerry Washington, [director] Kenny Leon, [writer] Christopher Demos-Brown and the entire cast to bring this story from the Broadway stage to our members around the world.”

The American Son production will come to a close this Sunday (Jan. 27) after a two month running at the Booth Theatre beginning in Nov. 2018. Watch Kerry Washington gush over American Son below.

 

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Meek Mill, Jay-Z Push Criminal Justice Initiative REFORM

Since Meek Mill's release from prison in April 2018, the Philadelphia native embarked on a new journey to help those unjustly trapped by the criminal justice system while fighting his own personal case.

On Wednesday (Jan. 23), the MMG rapper, Jay-Z, New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft, social activist Van Jones, Philadelphia 76ers co-owner Michael Rubin and more announced the launch of REFORM, an organization that aims to tackle the criminal justice system's perils by implementing effective strategies to revamp its current state. Jones will also serve as CEO.

Part of the organization will also highlight the establishment of a fair parole/probation system, a mandate that has followed Meek Mill since his late teens. Recently, the "Trauma" artist expressed his desire to end his parole, which he's been under state supervision for over a decade.

I just wanna get off probation I been on this shit my whole adult life ... 11 years of asking for permission 🤯

— Meek Mill (@MeekMill) January 22, 2019

https://t.co/2JcOpnV9JN getting beat up by the cops like this was normal where I come from .... a cop beat me worse than this and I got charged for hurting his hand ... I guess I hit his hand wit my face too hard and that was assault 🤷🏾‍♂️ pic.twitter.com/nK4UFgwruc

— Meek Mill (@MeekMill) January 22, 2019

On the subject of Mill's case, Jay-Z penned an op-ed for the New York Times where he highlights the country's crippling parole system. "The specifics of Meek's case inspired me to write this. But it's time we highlight the random ways people trapped in the criminal justice system are punished every day," he wrote in late 2017. "The system treats them as a danger to society, consistently monitors and follows them for any minor infraction — with the goal of putting them back in prison."

Pulling together a team to be the voice for the voiceless #REFORM @REFORM #FightDifferent pic.twitter.com/PN9dnJFOp4

— Meek Mill (@MeekMill) January 23, 2019

Congratulations and thank you to @REFORM CEO, @VanJones68 #FightDifferent #REFORM pic.twitter.com/9qt7mj13Ka

— Meek Mill (@MeekMill) January 23, 2019

HAPPENING NOW: @MeekMill and Jay-Z join forces with leaders in the music, sports and business world to announce the launch of, REFORM Alliance, a new criminal justice reform organization. https://t.co/Y12cjQCZJ7

Watch on Facebook live: https://t.co/vqmxQRhOne pic.twitter.com/m3n4Ncr0dY

— ABC News Politics (@ABCPolitics) January 23, 2019

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Suspect Arrested In Sexual Assault Case Of Woman Who Gave Birth While Incapacitated

Earlier this month, a woman who has been in a vegetative state for over a decade gave birth to a boy on Dec. 29. The delivery immediately raised red flags and launched an investigation to find the suspect that raped her. Now, on Wednesday morning (Jan. 23), Phoenix police announced the arrest of a nurse that worked at Hacienda HealthCare facility, where the unidentified woman is a patient.

Nathan Sutherland, 36, was arrested and charged with vulnerable adult abuse and sexual assault, the Associated Press reports. Sutherland, who's been an employee at Hacienda since 2011, was the 29-year-old woman's care provider, according to Phoenix Police Chief Jeri Williams, and his DNA matched the authorities' gathered evidence.

In a statement published by KTAR News, the facility's Executive Vice President Gary Orman said the company "will accept nothing less than a full accounting of this absolutely horrifying situation, an unprecedented case that has devastated everyone involved."

The woman's family discussed their daughter's health condition in a statement issued to NBC News. "She has significant intellectual disabilities as a result of seizures very early in her childhood," according to the family's attorney. "She does not speak but has some ability to move her limbs, head and neck. Their daughter responds to sound and is able to make facial gestures. The important thing is that she is a beloved daughter, albeit with significant intellectual disabilities."

The Huffington Post also notes that two doctors previously came under fire for the incident. One doctor was suspended while the other resigned. The doctor who was suspended was handed that mandate after authorities deemed he "placed the health and welfare of AHCCCS members in danger."

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