A veteran teacher at Mother McAuley High School has been fired for using the N-word in its entirety while teaching a unit on Native American culture. Her three daughters, also McAuley alumni, are fighting to win back their mother’s job and save her legacy, or at the very least, have a chance to apologize to her students.
Last Friday, Mary DeVoto — previously known as Mary Rahman to the thousands of girls she has taught over four decades at the South Side Catholic girls high school — had been introducing a unit on Native American culture to her sophomore world history class. According to the explanation given by DeVoto’s daughters on a Change.org petition, the discussion turned to sports teams with Native American mascots, including the Washington Redskins, which recently changed its name to the Commanders after decades of public outcry.
A student asked DeVoto why the word “redskin” was considered derogatory. DeVoto said that calling a Native American a “redskin” was akin to calling a Black person the N-word. Instead of using the N-word, DeVoto admits to saying the entire word — twice — while attempting to illustrate why the “redskin” was racist and derogatory.
Students told their parents, who called McAuley to complain. Another student recording the classroom lecture posted a 15-second clip of DeVoto using the word on Facebook.
“Guys, that’s no better than calling someone a [N-word],” DeVoto can be heard saying in the recording. “Calling someone a ‘redskin,’ that’s the same thing as calling someone a So, thank God, they finally changed the name of the team.”
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Unaware that a recording of her class was circulating on social media, DeVoto was called into a conference with McAuley Principal Eileen O’Reilly, a 2003 graduate of the high school.