Teacher Allegedly Called Black Students ‘Rats,’ School District to Take Action

Fourth-grade students subjected to a Florida teacher’s racism.

Screenshot from WJAX video.

A Florida teacher will face the consequences for making racist remarks against Black fourth-grade students at Carter G. Woodson Elementary — a school named for the father of African American history. The teacher called the children “rats” and said an early death or jail was in their future.

Duval County Public Schools (DCPS) said last week it will “take appropriate action in accordance with the collective bargaining agreement when school resumes for the 2017-2018 school year,” according to WJAX.

Following an investigation, DCPS district officials found enough evidence to substantiate further action against Carter G. Woodson Elementary School teacher Jordan Cataldo, who is white. The news channel noted that DCPS would not confirm the teacher’s name.

The school district said that “there was enough evidence reviewed by the district that substantiates further action; however, we cannot elaborate on an action that has yet to be defined.”

In May, Carter G. Woodson parent Tiera Ross summarized Cataldo’s alleged comments. Ross said her daughter and a group of Black girls were trying to return to the classroom, but the door was locked.

“[My daughter] said they were knocking on the door,” Ross said.

Cataldo allegedly told a group of students in the classroom,  “Don’t let the rats back in the class to infest the class.”

Ross’ daughter said the teacher elaborated on her thoughts.

“[The teacher said], ‘They’re only going to amount to be a bunch of ratchet Walmart workers,’ and ‘That’s why their race is either dead or in jail,’” Ross said. “So then I was kind of outraged about the comments that were made.”

Duval County has a population of more than 900,000, and the median household income is $47,690. DCPS has confirmed it is going into the 2017-18 school year with $12 million less than expected but plans to cover the money lost.

Carter G. Woodson Elementary School is located in Jacksonville. It has approximately 600 students, and 97.7 percent of the student population identifies as Black. Students who come from low-income families account for 80 percent of Carter G. Woodson, according to GreatSchools.org.

On average, a school in Jacksonville consists of approximately 41.7 percent Black students. The population of Jacksonville is 59.4 percent white, 30.7 percent Black, 7.7 percent Latino, 4.3 percent Asian and less than 1 percent American Indian. The median income per household is $46,764.

If it was indeed a group of Black girls who were chastised, that coincides with a report released last month that Black girls in the U.S. are disciplined more frequently and more severely than white girls.

Related Story

Adults Perceive Black Girls as 'Less Innocent' than White Girls: Georgetown Study

Adults Perceive Black Girls as 'Less Innocent' than White Girls: Georgetown Study

The study finds substantial bias toward Black girls beginning at age five.

Girl Interrupted: The Erasure of Black Girls’ Childhood,” published by Georgetown Law’s Center on Poverty and Inequality last week, states a study found that adults view Black girls as more adult-like than their white peers, especially in the age range of 5–14.

“What we found is that adults see Black girls as less innocent and less in need of protection as white girls of the same age,” said Rebecca Epstein, the lead author. “This new evidence of what we call the ‘adultification’ of Black girls may help explain why Black girls in America are disciplined much more often and more severely than white girls — across our schools and in our juvenile justice system.”

Ross told WJAX that she wants Cataldo fired for the treatment of the students.

“I’m so infuriated inside that I want to cry, but I’m not,” she said. “I’m going to be strong enough for my daughter to make sure that the situation is taken care of.”

Cataldo has not yet made public comments.

Read more news @ DiversityInc.com

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  • if the girls were late or whatever the case you don’t call them names. How unprofessional and ignorant I wouldn’t want this person in my school system.

    • Charity Dell

      MIEKAL–This is part of that “adultification” phenomenon of Black female children.
      Just because adolescents put up a front, that does not mean that calling them names
      does not hurt them! Also, name-calling is going to make any student more combative
      and resistant to ANYTHING the teacher has to say. All the teacher had to do is
      just calmly mark them late or whatever. Having taught students in an urban setting,
      I know that students are NOT always late “by choice.” Calling attention to their
      lateness is pointless activity and needless noise–and more disruptive of instructional time!

      • Where does it state the girls are combative? They were knocking on the door according to the article.

        Let’s add knocking on the door while black (black people have been shot for that BTW) to other egregious offenses, like driving while black, walking while black, coming from the store while black, standing on the sidewalk while black, during on three stoop while black, playing with a toy gun while black, complying with a cop’s orders while black, calling 911 for assistance while black, and the most egregious of all – existing while black.

    • Charity Dell

      JEFF–You know old Frosty the Pharoah didn’t get much edu-ma-cation.
      He literally “just went to school.” There was no cognitive absorption
      of concepts…he just went. That is all. :-)

  • If you don’t like children, you shouldn’t become a teacher.

    Ms. Estrada, please change the last sentence of the first paragraph to read “……..an early death………..”
    ~The teacher called the children “rats” and said and early death or jail was in their future.~

  • I do not understand why she was even teaching at that school – being that it was named after Carter G. Woodson. The irony is sickening. I hope she gets fired. She ought to never be able to teach again.

    • Charity Dell

      M–Yes, you DO know why she was teaching at that school–

  • Perhaps this teacher should have to make amends for her racist behavior. She should have to make a public apology to the girls, the families, school and community. She should have to learn history and read books to open up her mind – there are several I could suggest. She should also do some community service working with the same kids she has so heartlessly disparaged! This is an opportunity to make a different kind of stand and then if she doesn’t comply and make changes, then she should be fired. These occurrences which seem so much more prevalent in the current political environment can be used as a way to change the conversation and to hold people accountable whenever possible. Just firing her is a missed opportunity. She will most likely move to another school and behave the same way or worse!

    • Charity Dell

      H.GORDON–I agree that these teachers should be FORCED TO BE RE-EDUCATED, or lose their employment
      if they refuse to go to classes. The average Euro-american teacher comes from a middle-to-upper middle class
      background, and most of these teachers have NEVER been around anything that does not look like them. They have
      no experience with other cultures and they don’t even have experience with lower-class or poverty-stricken Euro-Americans.
      Most of them enter teaching with good intentions, but they are ill-equipped to teach, as one author so succinctly
      put it, “other people’s children.” All teachers should be learning multiple languages and take courses in the cultures
      and sociology of those student populations they will be expected to teach.

      Collegiate and graduate schools of education typically do not include enough courses in multicultural
      education, and do not do enough to expose education majors to issues that impact students of
      other ethnic groups, including the populations the student will be teaching.

      There are many excellent books that equip teachers to deal with–AND LEARN FROM–multiethnic/multicultural
      student populations. One excellent book from a Euro-American teacher was the self-reflective writing of
      Gary Howard:

      Gary R. Howard. Teacher’s College Press, Third edition, 2016.

      This book contains much auto-biographical material, in which Howard relates his own growth and
      development, including his painful realization that he had not been equipped to teach non-white
      students. A key insight in the book was Howard’s gradual process of de-constructing his white
      identity, then having to re-construct it WITHOUT the “white privilege entitlements” that had
      framed not only his identity, but also shaped his pedagogical style.

      OTHER PEOPLE’S CHILDREN: Cultural Conflict in the Classroom.
      Lisa Delpit. The New Press, 1R edition, 2006.

      Teachers can benefit from these books and others that give teachers tools to sensitize teachers to the
      issues their students face, and the ways culture informs their learning.

  • This is nothing new. To be honest, it is because we are now in a time where these folks are getting caught ‘red-handed’ so to speak — and that the outlets to expose them are many. I remember growing up in the 70s and 80s and going to school(s), and black students in my classes got worse than what this article is referring to On a daily basis. This teacher..? Her parents were probably kids in my type of school classes. Now grown up and in a position of education over children coupled with Trump giving them the ‘wink-wink-nod-nod’, they are very comfortable with acting knowing there will be little consequence.

    Cockroaches, vermin, pigs, welfare recipients, underachievers and more horrible, horrible things –black students where I grew up have heard it all – and that was also from the so called “guidance counselors” as well as teachers. People wondered why many of these kids came into classes with attitudes, less enthusiasm as the day before, this is why. The secret put downs. The daily eroding to the killing of self-esteem.

    I am sure some are saying, “Well, I would have told my mom or dad” –back then, they were pretty insulated away from this, and many of these teachers, etc., made them believe this of their child — the teacher right, child bad thing for them too.

    Bottom line, I am not surprised, and now in the age of Trump, these folks feel freer to stereotype, etc., because they felt they were restricted to do so by rules and laws, not common sense, decency and equality for all. Maybe now in this time of technological advances, the “big brother” concept of monitoring teachers and their classrooms (and guidance councilors, etc.) is over, over due –and these folks need to be held accountable for their hate. They need to know, the Trump era is not a “free pass” era to stuff they’ve been suppressing, but a wake up, expose these folks for what they are and hold them accountable for not wanting to progress.

  • In the early to late 1960’s, many of our inner city teachers up-South in Nazist Milwaukee were white racists. Like most white supremacist teachers, it takes a rat to identify a rat. Similarly, it took white slave owning ni@@ers to make Black ni@@ers; like Dr. Frankenstein made the monster, Frankenstein.
    This is what Carter G. Woodson talked about in his book: The MISEDUCATION of the Negro [by white racist cracKKKers]. They place the most ignorant, incompetent white racists in predominately Black schools and intentionally place the brightest and best Black teachers in suburban schools.
    As an example of white teacher racism and supremacy I experienced in the 1960’s, like these Black girls over 50 years later, a Southern white female cracKKKer taught us the song: “Nothing could be finer than to be in Carolina,” instead of teaching is the Black National anthem! When schools were forced to integrate, white Northern female Nazi cracKKKers made Black students get at the end of lines despite the fact that we usually lined up in alphabetical order (which would have placed some Blacks first in line).
    99.9% of Whites are psychopathic, sociopathic, inhumane savages who would psychologically and emotionally abuse children.
    Even education, which most of them don’t earn, but are handed degrees on a silver platter, can’t rid them of their latent white racism.
    I thank GOD for the few angelic Black teachers we had in elementary and junior high school. They were a source of intellectualism, inspiration and compassion.
    In 1973 racist Wisconsin, home of Nazi cheeseheads, “Witch-hunter” Joesph McCarthy, Paul Ryan and Scott Walker, my Nazi cracKKKer high school guidance Counselor, a Ms. Gaeton, advised me to pursue a “more realistic profession” (i.e., for a Black woman): A Cook, rather than a lawyer! I was typing at 90 wpm and writing shorthand at 100 wpm, and her white racism prevented her from even suggesting secretarial office work for Black students. Following the wisdom of Malcolm X instead, who rightfully called them “white devil’s”, I didn’t listen to this Nazi guidance counselor b/witch and became a lawyer instead of a cook!

    • KUDOS to you ZazsiJams. As an A A growing up; I’ve experienced same like actions in a mixed school environment. Having excellent grades in Math, English and Science upon graduating from from High School, before applying for College ( where I should have been guided) the guidance counselor advised me to apply for factory jobs best suited for rather then office jobs. s Angelo’s do not comprehend they ARE bigoted, dictatorial and racists; it’s in their genes. To be respected; respect others for what they are not what is thought they should be, we all have flaws! I’ve retired an accountant listening to my goals not theirs.

      • Charity Dell

        TEDDI’S MOM–Let’s not forget the fact that classism plays a huge role in schools, in addition to racism.
        Many white “mis-guidance counselors” have told poor white kids that they should just grow up to “pump gas
        at the filling station”. I worked in churches where poor white kids were NOT being encouraged to go on to
        college and pursue professional careers–their schools had lowered expectations for the students.
        Classism and racism both work to suppress the growth and development of human beings.

        • Come on, Luke. Zazi’s comments are atrocious, racist and indefensible. I’m sorry she has gone through so much, and it can’t have been an easy road. But “99.9% of Whites are psychopathic, sociopathic, inhumane savages who would psychologically and emotionally abuse children” is asinine. And you just defended it by taking a pot shot at Peter when he pointed it out. Peter may have other issues, but on this point he’s dead right. It’s important that we all condemn ignorance and racism wherever it sprouts it’s ugly head.

          • A stopped clock is right twice a day. Doesn’t make it right the rest of the time (or useful).

            I appreciate many of Zazi’s comments. They are an excellent counterpoint to the hate white men (and some white women) leave here with the false authority of privilege. Zazi shows us what it might look like if the shoe were on the other foot.

      • When you are taught at an early age to hate yourself by the very people who are supposed to be caring for your education, it is difficult not to feel anger towards them and what they represent. For most people, anger is the only power they have left. They certainly cannot inflict the same horrors on these people or their children. The pain is real.

        I notice that some commenters are quick to admonish the victim while overlooking the original offense, especially if they can relate to the perpetrator.

    • Charity Dell


      1. I taught ESL(English as a Second Language) students–Haitian and Latino–in a pre-dominantly African-American high school. I loved teaching, but I hated the xenophobic attitudes of faculty and administration toward my students.
      My students were ROUTINELY DISCRIMINATED AGAINST and DENIGRATED by both African-American and
      Euro-American teachers who HATED FOREIGN CHILDREN and used any and every excuse to PUT THEM DOWN.
      My so-called “tor-mentor” used to go bonkers and bristle any time I used French, Spanish or Haitian Creole
      to address ESL students who happened to greet me as we were changing classes! She never really caught
      on to the fact that these students greeted me in their languages BECAUSE THEY SENSED I RESPECTED
      THEIR CULTURES AND LANGUAGES. I had one older Haitian student, who would come to my door every
      morning before his first period class, to greet me in his rich, bass voice: “Bonjour, Madame!” To which I
      replied: “Bonjour, Monsieur! Comment allez vous, aujourd’jui?”

      2. Our school district did not have any ESL textbooks for us new teachers when we arrived there.
      Mind you, wonderful, innovative curricula and textbooks had been published FOR AT LEAST THE LAST
      25 YEARS! My students had textbooks for ALL THEIR OTHER CLASSES, including French and Spanish;

      When we finally DID get textbooks to teach English as a Foreign Language, it was APRIL in
      the school year. Yet, we rookie teachers were harshly judged–in spite of the fact that we had
      NO textbooks and NO curriculum guide for most of the school year!

      3. Many of the teachers–including the African-American ones–had all kinds of IGNORANT assumptions
      about foreign students, just like their Euro-American counterparts. I constantly had to explain WHY these
      ignoramus Americans had all this anti-foreign bias to my students, who quickly picked up the colonialist
      attitudes imbedded in OTHER ESL teachers’ attitudes and pedagogy. One wise Black mathematics teacher
      who befriended me frankly remarked: “There are two things you cannot fool: children and pets!”
      My students also informed me that I was hated by the other ESL teachers, “because you do not hate us.”
      IT WAS TRUE.

      4. Here’s another SHINING EXAMPLE OF IGNORANCE–When I was a reference librarian at a public
      library, I bought two great posters for the children’s room. These featured children in cute bathing
      suits, with the words for the parts of the body. One poster had English words; one poster had Spanish words.
      The Black children’s librarian protested the Spanish poster and REFUSED the gift! This,in spite of the fact
      that 60% of the children and parents using the library were of Latino descent, INCLUDING AFRO-LATINO.
      The poster with Spanish words featured A BEAUTIFUL BLACK GIRL. But the children’s librarian refused it
      because she “didn’t think the Spanish-speaking kids should learn Spanish” and ought to “just speak English.”
      I reminded her that MILLIONS OF BLACK PEOPLE SPEAK SPANISH and that our own AFRICAN-AMERICAN
      her on the fact that WE AFRICANS ARE THE ORIGINAL MULTI-LINGUAL PEOPLE and that this is part
      and parcel of our AFRICAN HERITAGE. She still protested, using all those lame Euro-centric dummy arguments
      against children being multi-lingual and MULTI-LITERATE. Yet, SHE BRAGGED TO ME THAT SHE COULD
      READ FRENCH! I was ASTONISHED at this level of HYPOCRISY, since I could NOT see how she thought
      it was her right to read FRENCH, but the African-American and Latino children did not have the right to learn
      SPANISH! I could NOT believe she could not see the ILLOGICAL BASIS of her “argument”–especially as both
      languages were Romance idioms, derived from LATIN.

      I DID remind this children’s librarian that ALL children need quality access to MULTIPLE languages,
      and that children in those middle-to-upper class SUBURBAN school districts were exposed to
      multiple languages SINCE PRE-SCHOOL, and that what rich kids learn SHOULD BE WHAT
      POOR CHILDREN OF COLOR DESERVE TO LEARN. Needless to say, I wasn’t too popular
      with the children’s librarian…

  • The school is 98% black. So, the teacher was also probably talking to a room of black children. So, she wasn’t being racist as she was being discriminatory based on these girls behavior. Stick with me here. I’m black. I went to public school, and Catholic school. Both were about the same demographics as this school. I have witness black teachers call out problem kids and constant troublemakers with the exact same prediction on the future. I remember in 8th grade the teacher telling some of us that our culture was doomed and several of us will be dead or in prison by the time we turn 25, because we were too concerned with rap music, gym shoes and basketball. This was the 80’s, and she was black- actually a community leader outside of school. She was right to lesser extent. Point is, we don’t know what these girls have been like all year. They clearly weren’t like the other black kids who did make it to the class on time. Her comment was out of line but, I’m not ready to call her racist. She took a job teaching in an inner city school that’s low on funds. Not exactly a candidate for Ms Klan 2017.
    Oh, and yeah, she should be fired.

    • Ms. Klan? So the only real way to be racist is to lynch a black person? Lady is racist, she should own it. Whether it was her sub conscience and it slipped out, or she sticks pins in black dolls, whatever. This type of coddling is what got us Hair Furor as president.
      Call them out! Stop making excuses for them! I DGAF if one of your teachers who said these horrible things was black. She should have been fired as well. Sounds like she hated black people. (you do realize that black people can hate black people, right?) If a teacher cannot deal properly with children, don’t be a teacher. Like, if a cop freaks out at any interaction with the public, don’t be a cop. So sick of these excuses.

  • It is simply sad for Mr. Sosa that he would need to take action in this manner. It is sad when our society place a great deal of value to white skin and people.

  • Zazi Jams,
    Your hatred of White people dims the light of your achievement and makes you no better than the object of your hate. Why are you even on a diversity site if you can’t celebrate diversity? How can you relegate an entire race of people into a racist category? Read your history and find out about the many whites including slave owners who helped Blacks like George Washington Carver to read and write, helped in the abolition movement (Harriet Beecher Stowe, Quakers), and more recently the Civil Rights Act that allowed you to get an opportunity to study and presumably practice law (Presidents John F. Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson, Hubert Humphrey, Everett Dirksen, and Emanuel Celler, and William McCulloch), who worked in a bi-partisan effort along with the NAACP and the SCLC to get the bill passed). We are and have always been in this together and many people of diverse races are standing together against racism and hatred now. But you, your racism and hatred makes you a slave! Its time to forgive those who attempted to define your future and acted in ignorance and embrace our differences as a positive thing.

    • David Andersen

      LaJuana, unfortunately ugly comes from all sides. Free speech is not always good speech. Zazi never brings anything to the table but hatred and racism. She is a mirror image of the ultra conservatives that troll this site to dig at the people who want to make a difference. Unfortunately the occasional sensible words she shares are so deeply embedded in bigotry no one pays attention to her. Respect others if you want to be respected. I learn more and more each day about the differences we all share, and that’s what helps us to grow and become better people. Learn from our past, and shape our future together.

  • P.S. Malcolm X later recanted his negative depiction of Whites when he attended his first Hajj in Mecca. There he saw a sea of white, blue eyed Muslims worshipping Allah just as he did. This is why our President’s attempts to ban Muslims from selected Black countries is so ill-conceived. Let’s not forget that there are over 250 million American born, U.S. loving, peaceful Muslims in the U.S. They have always been here and many are fighting for our country and against racist terrorists in foreign lands to keep America safe.

      • Luke, thanks for the correction on the numbers. I should have rechecked this. Alex, not intended to be an exact quote, but I hope you get my point: We have a significant contingent of American Muslims and they come in all colors. Malcolm figured out, I hope others will too.

    • Thanks to Luke for correcting those numbers. If there are nearly 350 million Americans, over 70% of them are not Muslim.

      I don’t remember Malcolm saying that he saw a “sea” of white blue-eye Muslims. I remember him stating he *saw* white blue-eyed Muslims, which of course, is not surprising given that Muslims come in all shades. But I could be wrong.

  • She shouldn’t be allowed to ‘teach’ anywhere. Her comments are completely unacceptable and a disgrace. This type of person shouldn’t be allowed within a mile of children to infest with her hatred and ignorance. I grew up in an inner city and all my teachers, no matter the color, were amazing. All children deserve a great education, teachers who care and want to help them succeed and be the best student they can be. Teachers should be inspirational and motivational not what this woman was. Just sad!

  • Still fuming over Barak Obama being President for eight years I would imagine. Then again, she does live in Florida. Say no more. Hopefully, she’ll get bit by a real rat someday while in captivity in Somalia or Pakistan. If she’s lucky, she’ll even be beheaded. Keep your fingers crossed.

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