NEW YORK (FOX 5 NY) - A $90 million lawsuit alleges the New York City Department of Education is demoting longtime leaders because they're white. The suit targets Chancellor Richard Carranza, who the plaintiffs say created a culture of "Us vs. Them."
"Absolutely not true," Carranza said one day after the suit was filed. "We have the truth on our side."
The three plaintiffs are Lois Hererra, the former head of the Office of Safety and Youth Development, Jaye Murray, the former executive director of the Office of Counseling Support Programs, and Laura Feijoo, former senior supervising superintendent. Herrera and Feijoo have been with the Department since the 1980s.
All three claim that after Carranza took over as chancellor, they were demoted without cause and replaced by less-qualified minorities.
"Carranza has completely disregarded the Human Rights Law by targeting and stripping Caucasian employees, particularly women, from the ranks of DOE senior management on the basis of their race and gender," the lawsuit alleges.
Carranza did not deny reorganizing staffing within the department.
"Last time I checked, as a chancellor I have the prerogative of organizing the system to deliver better results. That's exactly what I did," he said. "It is our job to make sure that every one of those students is served well. And those individuals that I have hired in my tenure, in my 14 months as chancellor, are the people that are the best qualified, the most qualified, are highly qualified."
The lawsuit alleges Carranza told a large group of employees last year, "Get on board with my equity plan or leave," which he denied saying.
But Carranza has made no secret of his mission to integrate the city's public schools and improve equity.
"I would say that the children in New York City, 70% of whom are black and brown children, get to see senior-level administrators that look like them," he said. "What's wrong with that?"
The plaintiffs declined to comment through their attorney, Davida Perry, who plans to hold a news conference on Thursday.