A Bible-quoting Bronx middle school principal is under investigation for allegedly telling staffers in November that, “I’m going to call a conference in the cafeteria, and I’ll put on a vest like the terrorists do and I’m going to blow you all up.”
Neifi Acosta hasn’t been arrested because the police determined it was not a terrorist threat. But it’s still an open investigation for the Education Department. According to Moran and other teachers who spoke anonymously, Acosta opened the meeting by drawing a cross and other religious pictures on a white board. “He drew a throne and said it was ‘God’s throne,’ and said we were putting ourselves in ‘God’s seat,’” said Moran, who saw the drawings on the board.
“He was very angry and he just started making threats,” the 21-year-teacher said. Another staff member described his speech as “spiraling into a doomsday” scenario. “It got very fire and brimstone, very fundamentalist,” the educator said. “I remember him saying that he was ‘really frustrated’ and that he thinks about coming here to the school and then he said those four words — vest, bomb, cafeteria and teachers. Really creepy,” the staffer said. The city started interviewing witnesses in January after complaints were filed against Acosta, who frequently peppers his staff talks with Biblical phrases.
The mechanism for removing New York City educators is infamously slow and may take up to three years in Acosta’s case. Meanwhile, teachers at his school have to deal with this:
Acosta has taken to placing large, laminated posters with Biblical quotes outside the classrooms of faculty being called in to speak with investigators, teachers said. The majority feature a quote from the New Testament’s Corinthians. “We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed but not driven to despair; persecuted but not forsaken,” read some of the posters, according to the teachers.The tag line on each said, “We will never, ever surrender.” Each had a picture of a ladder to heaven.
Another poster, stamped “NJA,” the principal’s initials, said: “We may not fight for our freedom, however, we know this. We will never surrender our freedom … you would have to attempt to take it away from us, in which case fighting would be inevitable. So … we dare you to try.” Acosta had no comment as he pulled his silver Mercedes S500 into a private parking lot outside the school at about 7 a.m. Monday.
Teachers also complain that Acosta treats male students differently than females. During a recent school outing, boys were treated to a showing of the Jackie Robinson biopic, 42. Over teachers’ objections that the Robinson film touched on key educational issues – racism, civil rights, American history – the girls were forced to attend a screening of Cinderella.