Residents of New Rochelle want newly appointed schools superintendent Laura Feijoo to be removed from the job before it even starts, citing her reverse-discrimination lawsuit against New York City as a negative for a largely black and Hispanic school system.
New Rochelle’s school board in June named Feijoo to head the school system, which has almost 11,000 students, citing her 30 years with the New York City Education Department.
But a New Rochelle coalition of black and Hispanic residents has called on the Board of Education to withdraw the offer because of Feijoo’s lawsuit against the city and schools chancellor Richard Carranza.
The group, which includes the head of the local NAACP chapter, called her appointment a “failure” for a school system that’s 70 percent Black and Hispanic, and locked in its own battles over racial equity.
Feijoo and two other white women sued the city’s Education Department in May, claiming they had been demoted or passed over in favor of less-qualified candidates of color.
“Her hiring is a destabilizing agent in our attempt to stabilize our system,”coalition member David Peters told the Daily News..
He said the lawsuit and Feijoo’s claims of reverse discrimination Hodisqualify her from leading a system that has struggled to recruit and retain administrators of color and in which there are heated debates over race and school discipline.
Feijoo could not be reached for comment through her lawyer, but she said at a New Rochelle board meeting on June 28th that the lawsuit was “an opportunity to stand up for myself and my colleagues.”
Feijoo has outlined several steps to signal a commitment to racial equity, including hiring a Diversity and Equity Officer, but coalition members said it’s not enough.
t going to end until she walks away or the board decides to relieve her of her contract,” Peters said.
Coalition members also feel the decision to hire Feijoo was done without sufficient community input.
“Part of the problem is the school board is attempting to push this down our throats,” Peters said. “This whole situation could have been avoided.”
Ken Valenti, a spokesman for New Rochelle’s school board, told the Daily News in a statement that New Rochelle had offered an open meeting with the search consultant for the superintendent’s job, and that the board remains supportive of Feijoo.