NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza is playing the race card, charging that his aggressive plans to make schools more equitable for black and Hispanic students have made him the victim of personal racist attacks.
“Just look at the abject racist things that are said about me: ‘Go back where I came from,’ ‘taco eating Carranza,’ ‘fire Carranza … Ai Yi Yi’ with the exclamation points in Spanish. Absolutely, they’re racist,” Carranza said Tuesday.
Those incendiary charges came after CBS2’s Marcia Kramer asked him and his boss, Mayor Bill de Blasio, about community bridge building after Carranza walked out of an emotional public meeting in Bayside, Queens. Parents from Marie Curie Middle School 158 demanded answers about a number of disturbing incidents, including a violent lunchtime brawl, a reported case of sexual harassment in a classroom, and an alleged sexual assault in a bathroom.
Kramer’s question to the mayor was about that meeting and other instances of parental upset.
“I wonder if you think the chancellor needs a remedial course in building bridges to communities?” Kramer asked.
The mayor said the concerns raised by the Marie Curie parents were serious.
“I don’t want to for a second, Marcia, to take away from the pain the parents are feeling,” de Blasio said.
De Blasio then rushed to the chancellor’s defense, saying Carranza didn’t flee. School board officials adjourned the meeting because it was out of control.
“This is just unfair. Some people have it out for the chancellor because he is ideologically different than them and because he is trying to shake things up,” de Blasio said.
The chancellor, who also claimed outside agitators were at the meeting, has stepped on some toes in the Asian community for aggressively seeking to expand opportunities for black and Hispanic students, including changing admissions policies at the specialized high schools.
He said the critics won’t stop him and he can always fall back on the skills he used to work his way through college.
“I’ve been a teacher. I’ve been a principal. I’ve been a superintendent. And in every city I’ve ever worked in and lived in there’s a Mexican restaurant. I have a mariachi shirt and a guitar. I will not starve, so bring it on,” Carranza said.
The chancellor said he’s addressing the concern of the Queens parents, getting daily reports about conditions there. City Council Education Chair Mark Treyger told Kramer he’s launched his own investigation.