NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (WAVY) — A Newport News, Virginia, history teacher is suing one of his former students after he says multiple acts of racism were committed against him.
In his 21 years as a history teacher at Menchville High School, Joel Mungo has never seen anything like it.
“Someone left a banana at my door. The banana was perfectly placed in the doorway,” Mungo told Nexstar’s WAVY.
Mungo shared images with WAVY that were taken two weeks ago. The first instance happened in October.
“Then it happened once a month,” Mungo explained.
A banana was always in the same spot in Mungo’s classroom doorway.
“It was clearly a deliberate act,” Mungo stated.
After the sixth time, Mungo said enough was enough.
Mungo reported the problem to Menchville administrators who pulled up surveillance video and found the student believed to be responsible: a 10th-grader in one of Mungo’s classes.
“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 said.
Mungo says the student’s parents were contacted. He was placed on a two-day suspension and removed from Mungo’s class.
“Initially when the parents were contacted, the parents seemed to be truly embarrassed. Then when the student was suspended and the parents were informed, then the parents were irate. It’s 2022. Just to have some type of hate crime is absolutely ridiculous. I was sickened. I was highly upset. So upset, I took the next day off. I didn’t go to work that Friday,” Mungo recalled.
Now, Mungo is in the process of pursuing legal action against the racist act.
“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. 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 said.
A Newport News Public Schools spokesperson told WAVY the district is investigating the report and has met with Mungo about the racist act.