A view of the Lower Manhattan skyline from the Staten Island Ferry, March 14, 2019 in New York City.
Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Four executives in the New York City Department of Education plan to sue the city, claiming they were demoted because they’re white.

According to the New York Post, the plaintiffs claim that Chancellor Richard Carranza has created “an environment which is hostile toward whites.” They also allege they were demoted in favor of people of color they consider to be less qualified.

“These decisions are being made because DOE leadership believes that skin color plays a role in how to get equity—that white people can’t convey the message,” an unidentified source familiar with the complaints told the Post.

Carranza has been known to take a firm stance against racism, including introducing a plan to eliminate the SHSAT, the city’s specialized high school exam, which was met with opposition from some Asian communities.

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Since Carranza started his job a little over a year ago, he’s worked to reduce racial disparities at the institutional level, even if it means calling out colleagues and constituents for being blind to their own racism. The Post details:

Supporters praise Carranza’s candor as courageous, but some parents who question his stances find him intimidating.

Irking Carranza at a Brooklyn public meeting last month, Artemis Lekakis, a member of the Community Education Council in District 20, a parent advisory board, asked whether city officials knew what scrapping the SHSAT “would do to the reputation of those schools once the quality of the student body is changed somehow.”

“As a man of color,” Carranza shot back. “I’m going to call you on your language. The coded language that we use, where we’re ‘diluting’ these schools because we’re giving more opportunity to a wider array of students, is highly offensive.”

A white dad, who spoke on condition of anonymity, was outraged that Carranza had suggested Lekakis, an assistant US attorney, was biased against black and Hispanic kids.

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The Post notes that under Carranza, the department has also employed consultants from Pacific Educational Group for “Courageous Conversation,” a training protocol on racism in the workplace. The work is intended to facilitate much needed deep-dive conversations.

“It is not talking about these issues that create divisiveness,” the protocol’s outline reportedly states. “The divisiveness already exists in the society and in our schools. It is through dialogue, even when uncomfortable, the healing and change begin.”

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But David Bloomfield, a Brooklyn College and City University of New York Graduate Center education professor, told the Post:

“Racial tensions appear to be one manifestation of these internal battles...Since Carranza took office, he’s brought in a lot of new people. As a result, it’s been bureaucratic chaos and backbiting, with deputies and their subordinates seeking better perches in the pecking order.”

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In a statement to The Hill, DOE spokesman Will Mantell dismissed the claims as being baseless.

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

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