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Threatened Teacher Seeks Transfer

December 1, 1998

NEW YORK (AP) _ Ruth Sherman wanted to teach her pupils about racial tolerance. But the book she used provoked more anger than understanding and now she is leaving her school district, saying she fears for her life.

Miss Sherman, 27, said she vacillated all weekend between staying with or leaving her third-grade class at Public School 75 in Brooklyn.

``But I knew when I woke up and I was afraid to drive there myself that I just couldn’t go back,″ she said Monday.

Her request for a transfer from District 32 has been approved.

Miss Sherman was last in her classroom on Nov. 24, when residents swore at her and used racial epithets during a school meeting.

They were angry because Miss Sherman, who is white, had read a book called ``Nappy Hair″ to her students in Bushwick, a neighborhood populated by many blacks and Hispanics. The word nappy is sometimes used as a derogatory term to describe a black person’s hair.

The best-selling book was written by Carolivia Herron, who is black and has said there is nothing racist in the book.

Miss Sherman said she was using the critically acclaimed book to teach her children a lesson in how to get along despite racial differences.

``The poor children must be so confused right now,″ she said. ``Everything I tried to teach them about getting along and togetherness has been thrown out the window.″

Board of Education spokesman J.D. LaRock said Miss Sherman’s transfer would take about a week to be processed. School officials were not available to comment.

The school principal tried to get Miss Sherman to stay, saying she would provide extra security to accompany her to and from her car, but the teacher said the idea kept her awake at night.

``I kept having these terrible nightmares that I was teaching and there were these two big security guards standing at my door,″ she said. ``Who can teach like that?″

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