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Yonkers teacher says contract not renewed because she wore 'I love Jesus' mask in school

She says the principal pulled her into a meeting, telling her she needed to stop wearing it because it made some people uncomfortable.

News 12 Staff

Apr 20, 2021, 12:26 AM

Updated 1,156 days ago


A teacher at a Yonkers public school says her contract is not being renewed, and she believes it's because she wore a mask that says "I love Jesus" in classes.
Wendy Valdez, who teachers kindergartners through fourth graders, says she had the mask on while she was at Cesar Chavez School in late January. She said it wasn't long before other teachers asked to wear them - or for the principal to ask them all to stop because it made others uncomfortable.
After she refused - claiming it was a violation of her First Amendment rights - Valdez says the district filed a report that she didn't follow directives from the administration, didn't service all students, was disrespectful and had excessive absences.
She says it's not true.
But according to a letter she showed News 12, the district will no longer keep her on staff after May.
She believes it's all because of her mask.
"Why is my mask an issue? I'm not pushing my agenda on anybody. I'm not pressing anybody on anything. But we have to respect each other. I respect you. You respect me," she says.
Valdez filed an EEOC claim that was denied and has now filed one with the New York state Department of Human Rights.
Yonkers Public Schools released a statement, saying it cannot comment on personnel but that it never violated Valdez's First Amendment rights, and encourages a climate of mutual respect.
The full statement from the school: “The school district cannot comment on the status of Ms. Valdez’s employment with the District, as it is a matter of personnel. The District has not taken any action in violation of Ms. Valdez’s First Amendment rights and does not discriminate against any individual on the basis of actual or perceived religion, religious practices, race, color, physical appearance, national origin, ethnic group, disability, sexual orientation, gender/gender identity. The District strives, at all times, to maintain and encourage a climate of mutual respect and dignity for all and does not favor one group over another whether on the basis of religion or otherwise.”

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