A racially-charged controversy in the Brooklyn school board is coming to a head, with New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio promising to look into the possibility of removing a black school board member who caused controversy by referring to “certain whites and certain yellow folks” in an email discussing a proposed school policy.
According toWLNY-TV, the incident began when Community Education Council 22 member Jackie Cody — who was elected to that position — sent an email to a listserv of education leaders concerning de Blasio’s plan to eliminated standardized tests for New York City’s specialized high schools.
The racial composition of these high schools has long been a point of contention in New York City, and city leaders have been attempting to divine a plan to increase representation of black and Hispanic students in these schools, which would have the effect of reducing the number of white and/or Asian students in those schools.
Cody — who is black — objected to de Blasio’s plan, saying, “To be blunt, certain whites and certain yellow folks on this listserv continue to focus on a very narrow view… what they’re advocating for is damaging to white and yellow children as well.”
Since Cody’s comments became public, they have caused an outroar in Brooklyn. WLNY reports that over 100 Asian Americans showed up at a school board meeting on Tuesday to protest, along with City Councilman Chaim Deutsch. Cody went onstage during the meeting and offered an apology, but according to WLNY, the Asian parents in attendance said her apology “felt insincere,” and stated that they feel uncomfortable with Cody representing a district that has a 20 percent Asian American population.
De Blasio, meanwhile, made it clear that he wants Cody removed, telling WLNY that “It sounds very insensitive to me. It’s not something I think anyone should say.” When asked whether he planned to attempt any action against Cody, de Blasio replied affirmatively, stating, “I honestly do not know and I will find out today what the chancellor’s abilities to remove an elected official are.”
Schools Chancellor Richard Carrazna, meanwhile, did not comment on whether he would support Cody’s removal.
As an elected official, however, it is not clear if Cody can be removed by de Blasio, Carranza, or anyone else. However, a new law passed by the New York legislature may have granted the chancellor the power to effect the removal that de Blasio desires; however, any such move would likely provoke a legal challenge.