NEW YORK (1010 WINS) – A bipartisan group of nine city and state lawmakers is calling on Mayor de Blasio to remove the New York City schools chancellor if he doesn’t tone down what they say is divisive rhetoric and policies.
In a scorching letter to the mayor, the group says Chancellor Richard Carranza is fostering a "hostile atmosphere" and makes decisions based on “ethnicity rather than efficacy.”
“We need a chancellor who promotes education, not division,” the letter says. “If Chancellor Carranza continues to divide this city, then someone who can unite this city and provide a quality education for all should replace him.”
Carranza has been a controversial figure since coming on as chancellor in April 2018. He caused a stir just weeks into his role when he tweeted a video captioned, “Wealthy white Manhattan parents angrily rant against plan to bring more black kids to their schools.”
Councilmember Robert Holden penned the group's letter, which was first obtained by the New York Post.
“The cronyism,” Holden told 1010 WINS. “He’s not doing job searches like we’re supposed to do in the City of New York; demoting or firing people for no apparent reason.”
Holden wrote the letter after three veteran Education Department employees filed suit. The three white administrators say they were fired and replaced by less qualified people to make the staff more diverse.
But Holden says there are other issues, like the chancellor’s statements around eliminating the test for specialized high schools to also make them too more diverse.
“I’ve never seen the city so divided now in the school system,” Holden said. “I don’t know of any of the chancellor’s policies that he’s put out that are addressing education.”
Holden says the letter signers want to see the chancellor lay out an academic plan and unite stakeholders.
The Mayor’s Office slammed the letter, calling it a “racially-charged smear campaign.”
“It’s a sad day for New York City kids when lawmakers care more about seeing their names in the press than about our school system,” press secretary Freddi Goldstein said in a statement.
“This racially-charged smear campaign is the only thing dividing our city and anyone backing it should be ashamed. We stand with Chancellor Carranza and thank him for all he’s doing to bring Equity and Excellence to all our kids,” Goldstein said.
Assemblyman William Colton has also signed on to the letter, saying Carranza “seems more interested in implementing a divisive social policy rather than in improving education.”
As a former city school teacher, Colton says the division stems from the effort to diversify high schools, but he says eliminating the specialized high school admissions test isn’t the solution.
“I am greatly distressed that the divisive tone of the chancellor is dividing our school system and pitting one group against another,” Colton said.