A Washington Heights high school principal is facing a probe by the New York City Department of Education for allegedly discriminating against white teachers.
The probe was launched after faculty members at High School for Law and Public Service accused principal Paula Lev of discriminating against staff and conspiring to get a white colleague fired.
Faculty filed a complaint with the Education Department and also voted they had ‘no confidence’ in Lev’s leadership.
The complaint, which was obtained by the New York Post, claims that Lev ‘flagrantly but unsuccessfully attempted to divide our school by race’ and told an employee that she ‘was going to get rid of all these white teachers that aren’t doing anything for the kids of our community.’
‘She definitely has something against white people,’ it adds.
Paula Lev, the principal of the High School for Law and Public Service, is facing a probe by the New York City Department of Education for allegedly discriminating against white teachers, according to a complaint filed with the Department of Education’s Office of Equal Opportunity
Faculty members filed the complaint last week, along with a vote of ‘no-confidence’ against Lev
A faculty member writes in the OEO complaint that Lev, 39, who is Dominican, approached him with a plan to terminate an unidentified white, female employee. Lev asked him to get a state education certification so he would have more qualifications than the white employee and Lev could fire her as ‘excess’ staff.
‘Ms. Lev has asked me to conspire with her on a couple of occasions in getting rid of my colleague,’ the faculty member wrote in the complaint.
‘She also stated to me in Spanish that she was ‘going to get rid of all these white teachers that aren’t doing anything for the kids of our community. I believe Ms. Lev is not suited for the position of principal because of the comments she has made to me about white people and the malicious ways in which she thinks and speaks. She is not fit to be a leader of a school.
‘As a school staff, we have lost confidence, creditability, trust, and most importantly we have lost hope in Ms. Lev as a principal at the High School for Law & Public Service.’
It is unclear if Lev knew about the complaint, but on the last day of school she laid off the faculty member who filed it and said he was no longer needed at the school and should look for work elsewhere in the DOE.
‘He blew the whistle on her and a week later he was (let go),’ an unnamed source told the New York Post.
Tensions first flared between Lev and staff in February, when she publicly accused Nick Bacon, the union chapter leader, of being racist after he filed a routine grievance about a scheduling issue affecting faculty members.
Lev confronted Bacon in front of a room of his colleagues and said, ‘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?’
Tensions first flared between Lev and staff in February, when she publicly accused Nick Bacon, the union chapter leader, of being racist
Bacon wrote about the incident on March 2 in a letter signed other staff members and sent to Manny Ramirez, the superintendent of District 6. The grievance was solved in Bacon’s favor and Ramirez acknowledged in a staff meeting that Lev’s comment was ‘inappropriate,’ but that the two must work together and move past it.
Lev later apologized to Bacon for publicly calling him out, a course told the New York Post. However, she stood by her comment and said it represented how she felt. She also recommended that Bacon read Robin DiAngelo’s 2018 book ‘White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism.’
She then encouraged Bacon to have ‘courageous conversations’ with her about the themes in the book, referencing a term used by the Department of Education during workshops on implicit bias.
Faculty members said that Bacon reached out to DoE Chancellor Meisha Porter earlier this month and asked for her to get involved.
He also met with dozens of staff members on June 24 to determine the conditions of their ‘no confidence’ vote. Their reasons, listed in the complaint, included that she had ‘disrespected, slandered, and/or arbitrarily gone after respected educators, to the detriment of our entire school community.’
They also asserted that Lev violated their labor contract and left staff out of debates on important school decisions.
‘With almost the entire 40+ membership voting, including both tenured and untenured teachers, paraprofessionals, and related service professionals, 83.3percent voted that they no longer have confidence in our principal to lead our school,’ reads a statement about the vote, which was obtained by the New York Post.
It’s not too common for staff to file votes of ‘no-confidence’ against school officials. In 2019, faculty at Forest Hills High School in Queens filed a no-confidence vote against Principal Ben Sherman because he allegedly did nothing to stop students from smoking marijuana. Sherman was eventually removed from his position by the DoE.
Lev began her tenure at the High School for Law and Public Service, on the George Washington Educational Campus, in February 2020 and was promoted to principal after her predecessor Nicholas Politis retired.
Before that, she worked for the Department of Education for 13 years in various roles. Since 2015, she has also been an adjunct professor at New York Institute of Technology, specializing in graduate work with students with disabilities.
Lev, whose salary was $165,542 last year, is married to Benjamin Lev, who is an assistant principal with the DoE.
The Daily Mail reached out to the DoE and administration at the High School for Law and Public Service, but did not hear back immediately from either.