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The Student News Site of MAST Academy

The Beacon

The Beacon

Two MAST Academy staff members under investigation

MDCPS investigating after civil rights complaint: Key Biscayne Independent

MDCPS investigating two MAST staff members after civil rights complaint: Key Biscayne IndependentOn Friday, June 2nd, the day after graduation, a recent MAST Academy graduate filed a complaint with the board of Miami-Dade County Public Schools, alleging inappropriate racial comments made by faculty members. 

The Key Biscayne Independent first reported that the student, Aniyah Upshaw, alleges the comments were made by Vice Principal Marina Torossian and math teacher Fernando Carasusan. School Board Chair Mari Tere Rojas said that Carasusan was removed from teaching duties during the investigation. 

In a news conference on Friday afternoon, Upshaw and other students commented on the racism faced by other students on a daily basis.

“I’ve been called the ‘N word’ with a hard ‘R’ on multiple occasions, I’ve been called multiple discriminatory words,” Upshaw said at the conference.

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According to her complaint, Upshaw accused Carasusan of referencing an “angry black woman persona,” and saying that at the school’s Black History Showcase he, “expected to see people ‘banging on bongos’ and ‘doing the dances’.” 

Torossian allegedly commented on her outfit, saying she looked as if she was going to a club and that, “she was not ‘portraying the right image as a woman of color’.” Upshaw claimed in the complaint to be wearing a long sleeve shirt and sweatpants.

Efforts were made to reach out to Upshaw for further comments but she did not respond. 

The complaint from the Office of Civil Rights Compliance states that Carasuan allegedly singled out Upshaw on multiple occasions. 

Not only has Upshaw felt this, but other students as well. MAST Academy junior Llaila Sa-Ra told The Beacon of multiple circumstances in which she has felt shamed for her lack of knowledge of black artists and food. 

MAST Academy graduate Esther Abraham told the Independent that many students have brought their complaints of harassment to administration and are “routinely dismissed.”

Last month, MAST Academy principal Dr. Cadian Collman-Perez told The Beacon that in reference to racial discrimination at the school, “no complaint has gone unaddressed.”

“MAST Academy is not the place for you to exhibit discriminatory behavior or behaviors that violate anyone’s civil rights,” Dr. Collman-Perez said.

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About the Contributor
Kamilah Gurdián
Kamilah Gurdián, Editor in Chief
Kamilah Gurdián is a senior at MAST Academy. As of 2023, she is starting her third year as a student at MAST at the age of 17. She used to attend iPrep Academy North during her freshmen year, but wanted to attend MAST since she was in Grade 5. Along with her, her younger brother who’s in Grade 7 attends MAST as well. She a first-generation immigrant in America and her mom is from Colombia and her dad is from Nicaragua. She is interested in math as a future career and takes multiple math classes.
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