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Lawsuit accuses NYC principal of purging white staff, retaliating against Hispanic whistleblower

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White staffers need not apply in this New York school, according to a lawsuit being filed against the principal.

A federal lawsuit filed recently has accused Principal Claudette Christie of Brooklyn’s World Academy of Total Community Health (WATCH) High School of racial discrimination, retaliation against a (Hispanic) whistleblower, grade fraud, and various other misconducts and dereliction of duty. The plaintiff for the lawsuit is David Rivera, the whistleblower who alleges Christie pursued a policy of punishment towards him in retaliation for blowing the whistle on various problems, the New York Post reported.

Previously, Rivera was the athletic director at WATCH, as well as at three other schools that share the Thomas Jefferson Campus in New Lots. Rivera said that a few years after Christie became principal (in 2013), she began a purge of white employees.

“Starting in the 2017-2018 school year, Principal Christie instituted a pattern of disparate treatment towards non African-American staff members,” the lawsuit alleges.

The purpose of this was to create a massive demographic reformation of the school in which white faculty ceased to exist, Rivera claims.

“As a result, the Caucasian teaching staff at WATCH High School, which represented 25 percent of the school’s teaching staff in September 2016, represented zero percent of the faculty by October 2019,” the lawsuit states.

It seems inevitable that Rivera’s feelings on the alleged situation would make him a target by the administration and specifically by Christie herself. Rivera says that Christie decided she wanted her friend, Assistant Principal Arianna Lewis, to replace him as athletic director. Rivera claims in the lawsuit that Christie then encouraged relatives of members of the school basketball team to dogpile Rivera with accusations of (ironically) discriminating against black staffers during a 2017 effort to get him removed. The allegations against him were dismissed by the Office of Special Investigation after they conducted an investigation, Rivera said.

The real trouble between Rivera and Christie reportedly began when he tried to go to the principal with concerns that coaches were engaged in various forms of fraud for the sake of the team, such as changing player grades and using fake addresses to facilitate incoming athletic transfers, Rivera claims. Shortly afterward, Christie felt emboldened enough to simply remove Rivera and replace him with Lewis, according to the lawsuit.

“It was time for a Black woman to have this small opportunity,” the lawsuit says Christie stated to Rivera after removing him.

Rivera wasn’t fired from the staff, however, and he says he continued to try to mention the coach misconduct to the administration, who didn’t appreciate it. The administration retaliated by littering his file with charges Rivera says were drummed up out of nothing, and in October of 2019 matters came to a head and he was told to take a hike.

“Since October 10, 2019, Mr. Rivera has been reassigned to a ‘rubber room’ administrative office outside his school without any specific reason for his reassignment, nor has he been interviewed by any investigator as to why he is under investigation,” the lawsuit alleges, implying that there was no basis to these accusations and therefore no need for the administration to try to actually investigate.

Christie, Lewis, and the Department of Education are all listed as plaintiffs in the lawsuit.

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