New York City teacher fined $300 for showing ISIS video

A New York City teacher was fined for showing an ISIS beheading video in class. Her case is the latest backlash against US teachers who give assignments about the Islamic State or Islam. 

AP Photo, File
Demonstrators chant in support of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) as they carry Al Qaeda flags in front of the provincial government headquarters in Mosul, Iraq (June 16, 2014). A US teacher was recently fined for showing an ISIS beheading to her class.

A New York City teacher was fined – not fired –as punishment for showing a video of an ISIS beheading to a middle school class.

A veteran teacher at the South Bronx Academy for Applied Media says she mistakenly showed a video of an Islamic State beheading to her eighth grade class. She was fined $300, at the discretion of an arbiter, while the City Department of Education pushed to fire her, according to a report from the New York Post.

"This teacher demonstrated a complete lack of judgment, and this incident betrayed our schools' promise to provide a safe and supportive environment," Department of Education spokeswoman Devora Kaye told the New York Post.

Students from the eighth grade applied media class told investigators the video was partially censored. It blacked out the actual beheading, but displayed the severed head.

Several students reported negative reactions from the video, many saying they were scared, according to the AP.

Details around how the video was cued for viewing are still mixed, but teacher Alexiss Nazario said it was a mistake. 

"I was scrolling looking for a specific video. I clicked on the wrong thing. It was a mistake. It was an error," teacher Ms. Nazario said to the New York Post. "I freaked out. I had no idea that was playing."

The incident highlights a growing trend of sensitivity around teaching secondary school students about the Islamic State or Islam.

Late last year, a Utah teacher faced stiff backlash from parents concerning an assignment to explore the propaganda utilized by the Islamic State, The Christian Science Monitor reported. The assignment arose during discussions on the Middle East, terrorism, and propaganda. The teacher called for ninth graders to create their own Islamic State propaganda poster, with a caveat that students who did not feel comfortable with the assignment could receive a different one.

Despite parental pressure, the school district declined to take disciplinary action, but did cancel the project.

"She wanted the students to understand how propaganda can be wrong and lead people incorrectly," Nebo School District spokeswoman Lana Hiskey said. 

In December 2015, a Virginia teacher faced calls for her termination by parents after a lesson to ninth graders about calligraphy that involved copying a religious statement in Arabic.

At a forum, some parents referred to the assignment as religious indoctrination and called for the teacher’s termination.

Schools in the county were forced to close for a Friday and cancel two weekend events, citing a large volume of angry calls and email complaints over the assignment, reported The Christian Science Monitor.

Nazario, the 26-year NYC teacher survived the backlash against the ISIS video and is now a substitute teacher for multiple schools.

"We sought to terminate this teacher’s employment on the recommendation of the Special Commissioner of Investigation, and ultimately followed the decision of the independent arbitrator,” DOE's Ms. Kaye told the Post. 

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