White teachers win $2.1 MILLION in discrimination suit against NYC education department

May 3, 2024 | Political News

New York City will pay out $2.1 million to three white teachers who sued the Department of Education for discrimination, the New York Post reports.

The plaintiffs claimed in the lawsuit that they had been demoted under former Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza and were replaced by people of color who they claimed were unqualified to take on their roles.

The suit was filed five years ago and all three teachers, Lois Herrera, Jaye Murray, and Laura Feijoo, will each receive $700,000 in the form of a settlement after a judge ruled they offered evidence of “race-based discrimination.”

Carranza was on a mission to battle “toxic whiteness” in the DOE, according to the suit, which resulted in “discriminatory” demotions.

The lawsuit claimed that while Herrera, a Harvard graduate, was operating as the CEO of the Office of Safety and Youth Development, one of Carranza's deputy chancellors suddenly took away her title and replaced her with Mark Rampersant, a GED-holding black man who was “less-qualified.”

Feijoo, the Senior Supervising Superintendent at the time who was in charge of 46 DOE superintendents, was replaced by Cheryl Watson-Harris, an underling who was Black and did not have the necessary NY licensing at the time, the suit states.

Additionally, Murray, former executive director of the Office of Counseling Support Programs, was demoted from his post and told to report to Rampersant, according to the suit.

Ursulina Ramirez, the DOE's then-chief operating officer, wrote an internal email claiming that former NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio, who named Carranza chancellor in 2018, was “fixated on diversity.”

The lawsuit claimed that those chosen to replace the three female teachers received their employment by “a tap on the shoulder,” without the posts being posted or other applicants being interviewed.

The educators are satisfied with the outcome saying they feel “vindicated” following a five-year legal battle.

The city did not admit to any wrongdoing in the settlement.

A spokesperson for the city's law department said: “The DOE and City are fully committed to fair and inclusive employment practices, and we maintain that these claims lack merit. Nevertheless, settlement of this long-standing case was in the best interest of all parties.”