a legal matter

NYC knew about discrimination lawsuit involving Carranza, but say accusations are ‘completely false’

PHOTO: Christina Veiga
Mayor Bill de Blasio on Monday named a new chancellor of New York City Schools: Richard Carranza, Houston Independent School District Superintendent.

City Hall officials said Thursday they were aware of a 2015 gender discrimination lawsuit involving incoming Chancellor Richard Carranza before tapping him for the job, but said they believed the allegations were false and did not affect their decision to hire him.

The allegations, first reported and splashed across the cover of the New York Daily News, took place while Carranza ran the San Francisco Unified School District.

The suit was filed by a district employee who said she was denied a leadership role during Carranza’s tenure because of her gender and charged he retaliated against her for confronting him about flirting with a woman during a work conference. The case was settled for an undisclosed sum.

A City Hall spokeswoman said city officials discussed the allegations with Carranza before his hiring and determined they were false. She did not offer more details about how the city determined the claims were not true, or answer other questions about the vetting process.

“The allegations were completely false,” City Hall spokeswoman Olivia Lapeyrolerie wrote in a statement, noting he was not a named defendant in the lawsuit and wasn’t involved in the settlement.

The plaintiff, Veronica Chavez, worked for the district when Carranza was named superintendent in 2012. In the suit, Chavez claims Carranza began implementing changes that caused a large turnover of staff that resulted “in the replacement of qualified female employees with a predominately male” team. Chavez, according to the suit, was “outspoken” about her feelings.

Chavez went on to create a new office to lead professional learning and leadership development, and expected that she was in-line to serve as its leader. She claims things changed after she confronted Carranza about what she described as “flirtatious” behavior with a woman at an education conference in Los Angeles.

Instead of being appointed to the post, Chavez was made to apply for the position, the lawsuit says. She says she suffered a concussion in a car accident just before her interview, which affected her performance. Ultimately, the position was given to another woman.

Mayor Bill de Blasio’s first chancellor pick, Miami-Dade County Superintendent Alberto Carvalho, faced scrutiny for emails that suggested he had a romantic relationship with a Miami Herald reporter covering the district. In that case, the scandal was widely covered and City Hall officials said it didn’t prevent them from offering him the job.

A spokesperson for Carranza did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The New Chancellor

Tell us: What should the new chancellor, Richard Carranza, know about New York City schools?

PHOTO: Christina Veiga
A student at P.S. 69 Journey Prep in the Bronx paints a picture. The school uses a Reggio Emilia approach and is in the city's Showcase Schools program.

In a few short weeks, Richard Carranza will take over the nation’s largest school system as chancellor of New York City’s public schools.

Carranza, who has never before worked east of the Mississippi, will have to get up to speed quickly on a new city with unfamiliar challenges. The best people to guide him in this endeavor: New Yorkers who understand the city in its complexity.

So we want to hear from you: What does Carranza need to know about the city, its schools, and you to help him as he gets started April 2. Please fill out the survey below; we’ll collect your responses and share them with our readers and Carranza himself.

The deadline is March 23.

buses or bust?

Mayor Duggan says bus plan encourages cooperation. Detroit school board committee wants more details.

PHOTO: Denver Post file
Fourth-graders Kintan Surghani, left, and Rachel Anderson laugh out the school bus window at Mitchell Elementary School in Golden.

Detroit’s school superintendent is asking for more information about the mayor’s initiative to create a joint bus route for charter and district students after realizing the costs could be higher than the district anticipated.

District Superintendent Nikolai Vitti told a school board subcommittee Friday that he thought the original cost to the district was estimated to be around $25,000 total. Instead, he said it could cost the district roughly between $75,000 and a maximum of $125,000 for their five schools on the loop.

“I think there was a misunderstanding….” Vitti said. “I think this needs a deeper review…The understanding was that it would be $25,000 for all schools. Now, there are ongoing conversations about it being $15,000 to $25,000 for each individual school.”

The bus loop connecting charter and district schools was announced earlier this month by Mayor Mike Duggan as a way to draw kids back from the suburbs.

Duggan’s bus loop proposal is based on one that operates in Denver that would travel a circuit in certain neighborhoods, picking up students on designated street corners and dropping them off at both district and charter schools.

The bus routes — which Duggan said would be funded by philanthropy, the schools and the city — could even service afterschool programs that the schools on the bus route could work together to create.

In concept, the finance committee was not opposed to the idea. But despite two-thirds of the cost being covered and splitting the remaining third with charters, they were worried enough about the increased costs that they voted not to recommend approval of the agreement to the full board.  

Vitti said when he saw the draft plan, the higher price made him question whether the loop would be worth it.

“If it was $25,000, it would be an easier decision,” he said.

To better understand the costs and benefits and to ultimately decide, Vitti said he needs more data, which will take a few weeks. 

Alexis Wiley, Duggan’s chief of staff, said the district’s hesitation was a sign they were performing their due diligence before agreeing to the plan.

“I’m not at all deterred by this,” Wiley said. She said the district, charters, and city officials have met twice, and are “working in the same direction, so that we eliminate as many barriers as we can.”

Duggan told a crowd earlier this month at the State of the City address that the bus loop was an effort to grab the city’s children – some 32,500 – back from suburban schools.

Transportation is often cited as one of the reasons children leave the city’s schools and go to other districts, and charter leaders have said they support the bus loop because they believe it will make it easier for students to attend their schools.

But some board members had doubts that the bus loop would be enough to bring those kids back, and were concerned about giving charters an advantage in their competition against the district to increase enrollment.

“I don’t know if transportation would be why these parents send their kids outside of the district,” Angelique Peterson-Mayberry said. “If we could find out some of the reasons why, it would add to the validity” of implementing the bus loop.

Board member LaMar Lemmons echoed other members’ concerns on the impact of the transportation plan, and said many parents left the district because of the poor quality of schools under emergency management, not transportation.

“All those years in emergency management, that drove parents to seek alternatives, as well as charters,” he said. “I’m hesitant to form an unholy alliance with the charters for something like this.”