Judge overturns firing of teacher in black baby doll case

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (AP) — A judge has overturned the firing of a Cedar Rapids teacher who’d been criticized for how a black baby doll was left hanging in her classroom.

The Cedar Rapids Community School District board had terminated Tammy Ryan’s teaching contract at Metro Alternative High School. A social media outcry arose in spring 2018 when a photo of the doll tied around the waist by a ribbon and hanging horizontally from the ceiling was posted.

Ryan says students placed the doll around the room as part of a game. The Gazette reports that Ryan says she perceived the doll as flying. Others saw it as a racist allusion to lynching.

The board fired her, and she took the district to court, seeking a reversal.

In a ruling issued Oct. 30, the judge said: “This single instance of unintentional insensitivity does not amount to just cause to terminate Ms. Ryan’s teaching contract.”

A district representative says board members are evaluating the district’s next steps.