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Complaints over Centereach fashion teacher's lesson seen as judgmental toward body weight

Jennifer Passarella, left, and her daughter Katelynn look

Jennifer Passarella, left, and her daughter Katelynn look over materials that were handed out in Katelynn's Centereach High School Fashion Design Class on Friday, June 12, 2015. Photo Credit: News 12

Centereach school officials are investigating why a fashion and sewing teacher used a class lesson that made fun of girls with fat in certain places.

In teaching material titled, "How not to look fat," one page says "busty" and "booty" are "good," while anyone with back fat wearing a tight shirt looks like a "stuffed sausage." A drawing shows the words "Uh-oh" and "sad" next to a sobbing girl with back rolls.

Copies were given out last month at Centereach High School in the fashion and sewing class, which primarily has ninth-grade girls, said Katelynn Passarella, who is in the class.

"I was just mad," said Passarella, 15. "Everyone being so judgmental toward one another -- why do we need this as a learning thing? There's no point in teaching us something like that. That's rude."

News 12 Long Island first reported the story Friday.

Most students didn't care for the advice on who can wear what, including no shorts if your thighs touch, said Passarella, who notes she doesn't follow that advice.

She said she and a friend complained to the teacher, who replied that it was part of the curriculum and laughed.

The teacher could not be reached for comment Friday.

Roberta Gerold, superintendent for the Middle Country Central School District, called the teaching material "inappropriate" and said the district and school are investigating.

"Further use of these materials, or materials similar in nature, will not be permitted," Gerold said in a statement. "We will continue to communicate with all Middle Country Central School District staff the importance of using discretion when choosing instructional materials to ensure all resources used promote positive learning experiences for all of our students."

Passarella's mother, Jennifer Passarella, said she complained Thursday to the assistant principal and principal but doesn't want the teacher fired. She said officials should review the materials: "Somebody has to look over them before she goes and gives them out."

Katelynn Passarella said the lesson's message was that being skinny is right, which has wrecked people's esteem and lives. On the questionnaire the teacher gave at the end of that class, she said, she wrote "I'm not OK with this" and refused to answer half the questions.

"I'm not going to let them get to me," she said. "I'm worried about other students that are so persuaded by words."


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