A Black high school history teacher in Virginia is suing a white tenth-grade student after the pupil was caught leaving a banana in the doorway of his classroom for months.
Joel Mungo, a veteran history teacher who has worked at Menchville High School for 21 years, said starting in October 2021 he noticed a banana placed in his classroom doorway.
‘Someone left a banana at my door. The banana was perfectly placed in the doorway,’ Mungo told WAVY 10.
Mungo said he thought the incident was a coincidence until it became a reoccurring incident – with the banana placed in the same spot at least once a month.
And after six instances, Mungo concluded that ‘It was clearly a deliberate act.’
Mungo is one of the few black teachers at the predominately white Virginia high school.
Mungo turned to school administrators who pulled up surveillance footage of one of his white 10th-grade students walking down the hallway with the fruit in hand. ‘
After finding the culprit Mungo said he gave the student an opportunity to fess up, but he denied any wrongdoing.
‘I gave the student a chance to come clean. I asked him, ”Hey did you do this?” He said ”No,” he played dumb, “No idea what you’re talking about.” So I said “OK, go down to the assistant principal.” I’m the only Black teacher he has. He has six other teachers. No other teachers were involved,’ Mungo told WAVY 10.
Mugo said when he contacted the parents they initially seemed ’embarrassed’ but once the student was suspended for two days they became ‘irate.’
Mungo said he was so upset by the situation that he took a day off from work.
‘It’s 2022. Just to have some type of hate crime is absolutely ridiculous. I was sickened,’ he said.
The racist act has disturbed Mungo so much he is now pursuing legal action.
‘I’m just fed up with the racism around, especially at our academic institutions. Coming from the HBCUs and other colleges, the bomb threats, the nooses, the bananas and now it’s streaming into public education,’ he said.
‘It’s time to take a stand and just let people know it will not be tolerated. I know I’m not tolerating it. You have to speak up. You can’t allow it to go on because then it will just continue to go on,’ Mungo added.
As far as his impending lawsuit is concerned, attorney Ali Shahrestani, Esq. told Newsweek that Mungo would probably have a better case against the school than the student himself.
‘If I were counsel in the matter, I would advise the teacher to consider a lawsuit against the school for supporting a hostile work environment via its negligent failure to dole out a reasonable punishment. A two-day suspension is what a student should expect when he cheats on a test or gravely insults another student,’ Shahrestani said.