Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza June 10 fired back at critics who alleged he hired ex-colleagues and did not follow standard hiring rules by claiming the attacks against him came because he was a man of color.
The New York Post reported that under Mr. Carranza, the Department of Education hired Martha Martin Perez and Raquel Sosa-Gonzalez, whom he knew from his past jobs as superintendent of San Francisco and Houston’s school districts, without publicly posting job openings for the positions.
Top Aide Uncertified
The newspaper also claimed that Abram Jimenez, who was Chief of Schools in San Francisco during Mr. Carranza’s tenure, was hired for a newly-created post, the Senior Executive Director for Continuous Improvement, despite not holding state certification to become an administrator in city public schools. (The DOE stated that the qualification was not required for the job).
An impassioned Mr. Carranza, who is Mexican-American, called the criticism “attacks” motivated by his pushing to better integrate the public-school system—which is 70 percent black and Hispanic. He has previously called the “racist” undertones of those who equated increased diversity in the city’s specialized high schools with a lowering of academic standards.
“There are forces in this city that want me to be the good minority and be quiet and don’t say a word,” he said at a press conference at Tweed Courthouse announcing the adoption of recommendations to diversify public schools.
“When have other Chancellors who are not Latino, not English-language-learners, been challenged on their hires?” he asked. “I want New Yorkers to answer the question—you go back through the last seven Chancellors and you do the math. Who was hired, who was not hired—what was their process? How did they get chosen? Who did they know?”
Fariña Took Heat
The Post accused then-Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña, who was an English language learner, of cronyism in early 2016, when it reported that a close family friend of hers who worked as a DOE human resources administrator was repeatedly promoted despite not having required state credentials. Dennis M. Walcott, who served as Schools Chancellor during the Bloomberg administration and is black, declined to comment.
Mr. Carranza added that it was no coincidence that the hires coming under question were all Latino.
“I do not apologize for bringing talented individuals to New York City, I do not apologize for lifting talented individuals within the organization. And I also want to make very clear, is it any wonder that those individuals who have been criticized are men and women of color?” he asked.
Mr. Carranza has recently come under fire for implicit-bias trainings provided to administrators by companies contracted with the agency, which some claimed fostered a sense of “toxic whiteness.” Three white veteran female administrators have filed a $90-million lawsuit in State Supreme Court against Mr. Carranza individually and the DOE, alleging that they were targeted for demotions because of their race.
Initiated Racial Politics
The racial controversies have snowballed since he and Mayor de Blasio last summer unveiled a plan to end the admissions test for the specialized high schools, prompting pushback from alumni groups and Asian-American advocates concerned that Asian students—who make up 60 percent of the students at those schools—would be hurt by the overhaul.
To achieve his goal of integrating the system’s 1,800 schools, Mr. Carranza last Monday announced that the DOE would adopt 62 of the 67 recommendations of the School Diversity Advisory Group, which the Mayor convened two years ago. The task force, made up of parents, students and other education advocates, released a preliminary report in February.
The changes mandate the DOE to annually report staff diversity (at the district level as well as citywide), to adopt a culturally relevant education and to require schools to create a plan to reduce disciplinary disparities. The de Blasio administration also announced that it would fund school-diversity grants to five school districts, including District 9 in the Bronx and Brooklyn’s District 16, which will support their efforts to come up with integration plans.
“Now is the time to tackle this challenge, not as a zero-sum game where some communities win and others lose, but as a city united to right the wrongs of the past and give every student the education they deserve,” the Mayor wrote in a Daily News op-ed.
Safety Agents Stay in P.D.
Three recommendations are still under consideration, and two were rejected. One proposal that was not accepted was to analyze the pros and cons of moving the supervision of School Safety Agents from the Police Department to the DOE. The school safety division was originally run by the DOE until two decades ago.
“What we're not willing to do is to sacrifice the great partnership we have with NYPD,” Mr. Carranza said.
Gregory Floyd, President of Teamsters Local 237, which represents the 5,000 School Safety Agents, objected to that proposal when the preliminary report was released earlier this year.
“I’m grateful they didn’t take the ill-fated recommendation to move school safety to the Department of Education,” he said in a phone interview. “We learned the lesson from the past, when crime in schools increased.”
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