Please take a second to sign this open letter to Chancellor Fariña demanding she stop the railroading of Jill Bloomberg, the principal of Park Slope Collegiate, who had the gall to speak out publicly about racial discrimination her students have been experiencing at the hands of the NYCDOE!
Dear Chancellor Fariña,
We are parents, staff, students, alumni, and friends of Park Slope Collegiate (PSC). It has come to our attention that Principal Jill Bloomberg has been notified that she is the subject of an Office of Special Investigations investigation. We are writing to express our strong support for Ms. Bloomberg, who has provided exceptional, tireless leadership for the school, and has created a vibrant and supportive learning community for our children.
Ms. Bloomberg has built an outstanding academic environment, in which our children have thrived academically and socially. The school is a model of cutting-edge pedagogy and positive socio-emotional learning, and is a safe and nurturing space for students from a wide variety of backgrounds. None of this would be possible without the dedicated, thoughtful work of a principal who is a model of the highest standard of ethical behavior, engaged leadership and integrity.
The timing of this investigation suggests the real possibility it was initiated in retaliation for Principal Bloomberg’s frequent advocacy on part of her students; advocacy that would constitute a protected activity under Titles VI and VII of the Civil Rights Act, as well as under related local anti-discrimination laws.
Ms. Bloomberg has a long history as an outspoken advocate against racial discrimination, and has taken a strong stand on matters such as removing the metal detectors from the John Jay Campus, objecting to the treatment of a student who was subjected to excessive discipline by school safety officers, advocating for school desegregation, and protesting against racial profiling by the police of PSC students.
Most recently, less than one month ago, Principal Bloomberg objected in writing that the Public Schools Athletic League (PSAL) has awarded almost twice the number of sports teams to Millennium Brooklyn High School (and its sister school in Manhattan, which shares John Jay facilities) than to the rest of the high schools in the John Jay Campus combined.
The PSC school community supported this action, and in materials that the PTA produced to draw attention to this situation, we included information documenting the different racial compositions of the two sets of schools, noting that Black and Hispanic students comprise only 38% of the Millennium schools combined, as compared to 89% of the rest of the John Jay schools combined. The PTA flyer stated that “John Jay students are subject to separate but unequal treatment. The Department of Education and the Public Schools Athletic League have allowed this racist inequity to take root.” This advocacy, along with the above-mentioned actions, fall squarely into the definition of a protected activity under the anti-discrimination laws.
The opening of an investigation against Principal Bloomberg so soon following her memo and the circulation of our PSAL flyer creates a strong impression of a retaliatory nexus between her advocacy against discriminatory treatment of the John Jay students, as well as for her history of similar advocacy over the years. We sincerely hope that this is not the case.
We also have grave concerns about the lack of due process surrounding the investigation, and the resulting impact on our children’s school. It is our understanding that Principal Bloomberg was notified verbally last week of the existence of the investigation, without being informed of the nature of the charges, nor given the opportunity to present any evidence on her behalf. Rather, she was told that it might be a minimum of a month before she is informed of the specific allegations – if at all. As parents, we find this treatment of the principal of our children’s school to be appalling in its lack of transparency at a minimum.
Additionally, it has come to our attention that the investigation may absurdly be related to suspicions of “communist organizing” at the school. The fact that an upstanding principal could be seriously investigated for such McCarthyist allegations is astonishing and only reinforces our sense that this investigation is unfounded and retaliatory in nature.
We, the undersigned, are unified in our support of Ms. Bloomberg and will do everything possible to ensure that she receives the fair treatment, respect and due process owed to anyone in her position, but especially to someone who has devoted herself with such integrity and compassion to our children.