Bronx superintendent sues Department of Education after being fired for not enforcing equity agenda

A former Bronx school superintendent is suing a $150 million lawsuit against the New York City Department of Education after she was allegedly fired for refusing to conform with the department’s equity agenda.

Karen Ames, a 30 year employee of the Department of Education, says she was targeted by Carranza’s “Disrupt and Dismantle” campaign to oust or marginalize longtime employees because she is over forty and Jewish. “The agenda of Chancellor Carranza and his senior leadership team was euphemistically touted as an ‘equity platform’ but in reality, it was a platform used to create gender, age, racial and ethnic divisions in the NYC School system,” she contends in her Manhattan Supreme Court lawsuit filed Friday. Ames brought a few examples of how this equity platform is implemented.

She described an implicit bias training in 2019 where employees were asked to share their personal stories. For example, Ames shared the story of her grandparents, who are both Holocaust survivors. After telling this story, Ames claims that her colleague Rasheda Amon told her to “check yourself” and that the training “isn’t about being Jewish! It’s about black and brown boys of color only.” She also claims that she was admonished for refusing to give the “Wakanda Forever” salute during a superintendent’s meeting. The salute, which originated at Black Panther, involves crossing one’s arms in front of one’s chest. Ames described it as a salute to the “black power” she charges in the legal filing.

Carranza praised Ames’ success in improving math scores at struggling schools and vowed to replicate her methods elsewhere, according to court documents. But instead of celebrating Ames’ work, Cheryl Watson-Harris, Carranza’s top deputy – who left last year to become a school superintendent in DeKalb County, Ga. – interrogated Ames during a chauffeured car ride about her DOE history, family, residence and “improperly inquired” about her ethnicity, she claims. NYC Parents Union Mona Davids, who is black, blasted the training session at the time. “It’s completely absurd — they want to treat black students as victims and punish white students. That defeats the purpose of what bias awareness training should be.”

A public middle school teacher in Manhattan also complained about the training. “My ancestors were enslaved and murdered because of their religion, I am now being forced to become ‘liberated’ from my whiteness. I am being persecuted because of the circumstances of my birth. I was not aware that I needed to be liberated from how God created me”. She continues, saying, “I will never be brainwashed by Richard Carranza and his minions. I cannot support a school’s chancellor who is implicitly biased against me and my children,” she said. “This case highlights that those in power often put their own agendas before the well-being of our community. It’s a terrible example for our children to be taught to judge people on anything other than merit,” Ames’s lawyer said of the incident.




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