Zakia Jarrett

Zakia Jarrett

The late afternoon sun’s spotlight shone June 19 on Milton Public School teacher Zakia Jarrett, literally and figuratively.

Speaking in public to hundreds of men, women and children in front of Milton High School shortly before 7 p.m., Jarrett spoke about the need for freedom of speech in the classroom.

Holding several sheets of paper, she began to read from her notes in front of a microphone.

“Thank you for coming tonight,” Jarrett began, “thank you for showing your support for teachers, for students and for free speech.”

She alluded to a reason for the gathering’s assembly, which stems from Jarrett on June 5 by school administrators of being “wrongly accused of presenting inaccurate or inappropriate material about racial prejudice” during a remote classroom teaching lesson, per a Massachusetts Teachers Association statement. A video recording clip, filmed wrongfully per remote lesson school rules under COVID-19, made its way to the office of Superintendent of Schools Mary Gormley. Jarrett’s filmed poetry lesson referenced current racial injustice in the nation and how some police officers may approach their work.

The fallout from what Jarrett said during this moment of the lesson and the recording was swift; by that June 5 afternoon, Jarrett was told she was put on paid administrative leave. As earlier reported, “the MEA challenged her suspension and said the district rescinded the paid administrative leave later that night following a meeting with MEA leadership.”

(More appears in the Milton Times in print and online in the issue of June 25, 2020.)

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