Wake schools: 'Rosary' teacher still suspended with pay

Corbino told middle-schoolers not to wear rosaries in her class

khui@newsobserver.comOctober 29, 2012 

  • Board meeting Members of the Wake County school board will reconvene Tuesday for their first full meeting since Oct. 16 after a two-week break. The break was filled with revelations and accusations that could make Tuesday’s meeting a tense one. Since Oct. 16, news reports have described school board member Debra Goldman’s naming of fellow board member Chris Malone as a suspect in a June 2010 burglary of her home. The details of the previously confidential police report, which was provided to The News & Observer on Oct. 18 by an unknown source, show that Goldman and Malone had given police conflicting statements about whether they had a romantic relationship. On Saturday, Goldman, now the Republican nominee for state auditor, said there had been no physical affair of the sort described by Malone, currently a Republican candidate for state House. News reports have also shown that Goldman had complained to police about the behavior of school board vice chairman Keith Sutton during a Sept. 25 closed-session discussion about firing former Superintendent Tony Tata. Thomas Goldsmith

— 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 Corbino’s 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 can’t say why Corbino’s case is still under investigation because it involves a personnel matter.

Corbino said Monday that on the advice of her attorney she can’t discuss the case until it is resolved. But Corbino said she’s been “humbled” by all the people who’ve contacted her to tell her they support her.

“It’s 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 Corbino’s 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 Corbino’s 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 they’ve handled it is just bizarre,” McCarty said.

Hui: 919-829-4534

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