Four top executives at the New York City Department of Education who have been demoted or stripped of their duties plan to sue the city on discrimination claims.
The veteran administrators, who are all white women, argue that they were replaced with less qualified people of color. They are being represented by attorney Davida Perry from the law firm Schwartz Perry & Heller; Perry declined to comment on the case until the suit is filed, which she said would happen “hopefully next week.”
According to the New York Post, a source claimed Chancellor Richard Carranza’s sweeping reorganization has created “an environment which is hostile toward whites.” The source accused Carranza and DOE leadership of putting an emphasis on skin color over qualifications. “There’s a toxic whiteness concept going on,” the source told the Post.
“We’re going to defend it vigorously. There’s nothing there,” Carranza told WLNY-TV. “We’re going to be able to show we hired the best people for the job through a process that was fair to everyone.” Carranza added that qualifications, not race, were taken into consideration when hiring administrators.
David Bloomfield, a Brooklyn College and CUNY Grad Center education professor, told the Post that Carranza has brought in a slew of new people to the department since he took office. “As a result, it’s been bureaucratic chaos and backbiting, with deputies and their subordinates seeking better perches in the pecking order,” he said. “Racial tensions appear to be one manifestation of these internal battles.”
Carranza’s restructuring has previously caused tension. In June 2018, he faced backlash from Asian communities after releasing a plan to change the way students are admitted to the city’s elite public high schools.
NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio announced a two-pronged plan that would reserve 20 percent of seats at each elite school for students from high-poverty schools who just miss the cutoff score. Eventually, the administration aimed to eliminate the test altogether.
Asian American community members struck back, claiming the proposal was discriminatory. According to The New York Times, Carranza responded, “I just don’t buy into the narrative that any one ethnic group owns admission to these schools.”
The department also hired consultants from the Pacific Educational Group for “Courageous Conversation,” a training protocol on racism in the workplace. According to the Post, the protocol defines racism as “any act that even unwittingly tolerates, accepts or reinforces racially unequal opportunities or outcomes for children to learn and thrive.”
The office of Darnisa Amante, CEO and founder of Disruptive Equity Education Project (DEEP), has also been hired by the department. DEEP is described as “a professional development and strategy organization that is focused on the intentional, developmental, and complex work that is associated with changing mindsets around equity and dismantling systemic oppression and racism.”
Carranza was previously the schools chief in Houston. In his new role, he created a new bureaucratic layer of nine “executive superintendents” and fired or reassigned several executives for performance issues. Apart from the lawsuit, other administrators may file Equal Employment Opportunity discrimination complaints against the department, sources told the Post.
About the Author
Nicole Rojas is a breaking news writer for The North Star. She has published in various venues, including Newsweek, GlobalPost, IHS Jane’s Defence Weekly, and the Long Island Post. Nicole graduated from Boston University in 2012 with a degree in print journalism. She is an avid world traveler who recently explored Asia and Australia.