The faculty of a Washington Heights high school is rebelling against their principal, charging in a vote of no-confidence that she has “flagrantly but unsuccessfully attempted to divide our school by race.”
Paula Lev, principal of the High School for Law and Public Service, is now under investigation by the city Department of Education for allegedly telling a faculty member she “was going to get rid of all these white teachers that aren’t doing anything for the kids of our community,” a complaint states.
Lev, a Dominican, also asked the faculty member to “conspire with her” to try to oust a white colleague, according to the complaint filed last week with the DOE’s Office of Equal Opportunity.
“She definitely has something against white people,” says the complaint, obtained by The Post.
“She definitely has something against white people.”
On the last day of school, Lev gave the faculty member a notice that he was “placed in excess” — meaning no longer needed at the school — and should look for a job elsewhere in the DOE.
“He blew the whistle on her and a week later he was excessed,” a colleague said. It’s unclear whether Lev knew about the complaint.
The complaint came amid simmering unrest at the school, which staffers blamed on what they said was Lev twisting the current concepts of equity and anti-racism, which the DOE promotes and teachers overwhelmingly support.
Dissatisfaction with Lev, 39, boiled up in February, when teacher Nick Bacon, the union chapter leader, filed a routine grievance about a scheduling issue that could have affected most of the faculty, staffers said.
In front of a half-dozen other staffers, Lev questioned Bacon’s motives.
“I wasn’t sure what your problem with me was, maybe it’s because I am a woman of color and you’re a white man?’ Lev asked Bacon, according to a March 2 letter to District 6 Superintendent Manny Ramirez and signed by most of the school’s tenured members.
“I wasn’t sure what your problem with me was, maybe it’s because I am a woman of color and you’re a white man?’”
Staffers were outraged that Lev had seemingly accused Bacon, who was raising their labor concerns, of being racist. The school has a diverse staff — about half white, some Jewish and Greek. A mix of black, Hispanic and some Asian make up the rest.
The grievance raised by Bacon was resolved in the union’s favor. In an effort to quell the furor over Lev’s remark, Ramirez agreed in a meeting that what she said was “inappropriate,” but added that the comment expressed Lev’s feelings, and urged Bacon to work with her, staffers said.
In a later meeting with Bacon, Lev apologized for making the remark openly at a staff conference — but not for the substance of her comment, saying it reflected her true feelings and should have been expressed to him alone, said people informed of the discussion.