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Lawsuit Filed Against Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza Over Alleged Wrongful Demotions

— May 30, 2019

A lawsuit was recently filed against Richard Carranza over allegations that three top-level officials were demoted due to their gender and race.

Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza is at the center of a lawsuit alleging three top education officials were wrongfully demoted because they were white and women. So far Carranza has pushed back against the allegations, claiming they’re simply not true.

Legal gavel
Legal gavel; image courtesy of succo via Pixabay,

The lawsuit was filed earlier this week on behalf of Lois Herrera, Laura Feijoo, and Jaye Murray. All three women worked as high-level officials. For example, Herrera was once the CEO of the Office of Safety and Youth Development. Feijoo is a former Senior Supervising Superintendent and Murray used to work as the executive director of the Office of Counseling and Support Programs, according to the suit.

Prior to their demotions, the women allege their workloads were minimized. Soon after, they were demoted “as part of Carranza’s reorganization last year and replaced with less qualified people of color.” The suit states:

“Carranza has improperly conflated the daunting task of addressing tough socioeconomic challenges facing many of the students in the New York City public school system with a discriminatory belief that Caucasians in the DOE workplace, particularly more senior caucasian women, are causing or exacerbating those challenges.”

The lawsuit was filed at a time when Carranza is trying to make racial equity a focal point of his agenda. As part of that agenda, the chancellor “has been requiring that all of the city’s educators receive implicit bias training within two years, an effort he has described as a ‘cornerstone’ of his school improvement efforts.” However, those particular trainings have been met with push back from some employees in the education department. Many of them claim the “trainings have created a toxic work environment.” Additionally, the suit states Herrera, Feijoo, and Murray “repeatedly felt devalued because of their race.”

In response to the allegations, Carranza said, “last time I checked, as the chancellor I have the prerogative of organizing the system to deliver better results. That’s exactly what I did.” He added:

“The children in New York City — 70% of whom are black and brown children — get to see senior level administrators that look like them. What’s wrong with that? And they happen to be extremely well-qualified individuals who at any moment could get tapped to lead their own school system anywhere across this country.”

Will Mantell, a spokesperson with the education department chimed in and said:

“We hire the right people to get the job done for kids and families, and these claims of ‘reverse racism’ have no basis in fact. We’ll continue to foster a supportive environment for all our employees.”


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