NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — The Brooklyn school board member under fire for using a racial slur to describe Asian-Americans has broken her silence.
Mayor Bill de Blasio had previously said he would look into whether she can be removed. As for Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza, he announced his decision late Wednesday afternoon, CBS2’s Lisa Rozner reported.
Protesters at a school board meeting in Gravesend earlier this month received an apology from Community Education Council 22 member Dr. Jackie Cody.
“I had no idea that the term that I used was offensive,” Cody said.
The term in question was “yellow folks.” Back in September, Cody was advocating for the schools chancellor’s controversial plan to eliminate the admissions test for specialized high schools where currently the majority of students are Asian-American. In an online forum with school leaders, she said “certain yellow folks” continue to focus on a very narrow view and that advocating for the tests damages “yellow children” as well.
“After five weeks, six weeks of not saying anything to us, to stand up there and give that apology is just fake. It’s insincere and certainly none of her actions seem apologetic to our community,” Council member Yiatin Chu said.
Last week, Carranza tweeted it’s “unacceptable” and “I’ve asked my team to look into this further.”
It’s completely unacceptable, and while her public apology was an important first step, I’ve asked my team to look into this further. Parents leaders serve on autonomous, elected bodies, and I am respectful of that. (3/4)
— Chancellor Richard A. Carranza (@DOEChancellor) November 19, 2019
So on Tuesday night, some community members wanted an update from a panel that oversees the Department of Education. Carranza, who is on the panel, didn’t show, but Deputy Chancellor Adrienne Austin did.
“It’s been over eight weeks since you knew, so, Adrienne, if you could tell us what the status is I think we’d like to hear,” Council member Lucas Liu said.
“We’ll have someone, get back to you,” Austin responded.
“Why is our Asian student and family invisible to DOE?” Council member Vincent Lu said.
After the meeting, Rozner asked to speak to Austin, but she indicated she would have no comment.
On Wednesday afternoon, the mayor and chancellor said Cody didn’t technically break the law, that each school board makes the decision and that Dr. Cody’s board supports her staying.
By phone, Cody told Rozner she’s still capable of serving the community, despite the backlash.
“I truly seek forgiveness from those I offended. This situation does not reflect who I am at all,” said Cody, who added she has a non-profit helping teens and young adults pursue success at school and in their careers. “What I said has been taken out of context. My point remains. We are all one race, and all children, regardless of color, are all gifted and talented. We need to educate the community. There’s a lot of people that don’t know this term is offensive.”
Derek Perkinson, a Harlem Community Board Member, also told Rozner, “The work she’s been doing for over 30-40 years is not to be discredited or taken away for a bad comment. She’s literally lost her head for this. Everyone makes mistakes and they’re trying to hold this mistake… and it’s not right and it’s not fair.”
That said, the Asian-American community members Rozner spoke to said her explanation is not enough and they plan to protest at Cody’s next school board meeting.
Jane Meyer issued the following statement on behalf of the Mayor and Chancellor:
“The Mayor was clear an apology was necessary. Dr. Cody has apologized for her use of a term that both the Mayor and Chancellor believe is inappropriate. Following that, Community Education Council 22 also voiced their disappointment, but noted their support for her continued role on the Council. Community Education Councils are autonomous bodies that make their own membership decisions. It’s imperative they hold themselves to a high moral standard, adjust and apologize when they miss the mark, and keep their focus on our city’s 1.1 million students.”
The DOE released the following statement:
Removal by the Chancellor can only begin on the basis of violation of “law, by-laws, rules or regulations, standards, directives and agreements.” Dr. Cody’s actions did not violate any laws, and a review of the CECs by-laws indicates her actions did not violate those either.