RALEIGH — A Wake County middle-school teacher remains suspended with pay two months after a complaint about her telling students not to wear rosary beads in class.
Patricia Corbino, a sixth-grade science teacher at Leesville Road Middle School in North Raleigh, has been out of the classroom since Aug. 30. After using substitute teachers to cover Corbinos classes, the school system earlier this month hired a new teacher to take over her position. School officials did not respond to a request for the salary of the replacement teacher.
Mike Charbonneau, a Wake schools spokesman, said he cant say why Corbinos case is still under investigation because it involves a personnel matter.
Corbino said Monday that on the advice of her attorney she cant discuss the case until it is resolved. But Corbino said shes been humbled by all the people whove contacted her to tell her they support her.
Its been very gratifying to receive all that support from former parents, students and even complete strangers, she said.
Corbino, who has a salary of $51,127 a year, is no longer is assigned to a school.
On Aug. 27 on the first day of classes, Corbino, who is Catholic, explained to students her classroom rules. Among them was a request that any student who wore a rosary as a necklace remove it during her class.
The rosary represents a series of prayers. Catholics use rosary beads to keep track of the prayers as they proceed through the rosary.
The Roman Catholic Church tells its members not to treat rosaries as jewelry, although some believers, particularly Latino Catholics, do wear them as necklaces.
Yvonne McCarty, whose daughter is in Corbinos class, complained to the school system about the ban. Neither McCarty nor her 10-year-old daughter, who are Baptists, wear rosaries. But McCarty says Corbinos rule violated her students right to free expression.
McCarty said Monday that rather than suspending Corbino, school officials should have just had her apologize to the students for telling them not to wear rosaries.
The way theyve handled it is just bizarre, McCarty said.