Task Force on Inclusivity Runs Counter to its Mission
By Andrew Zengin
The Race, Inclusivity, and Community Task Force’s mission of creating an inclusive environment within the Rye City School District is important because all students need to feel secure and motivated to learn at school. I supported and wanted to contribute to the mission and was included in the Task Force.
One of the developments of the Task Force was the inclusion of the Steinhardt School of NYU, which follows the Critical Race Theory. This theory is racist because it claims white people are incapable of assessing racial issues properly because of their whiteness as a trait and privilege. Such a racist theory has no place in a Task Force aiming to create a racially inclusive environment.
Not only is the Steinhardt School’s guiding theory racist, but the consultants, Dr. Natalie Zwerger and Louis Tapia, support Critical Race Theory unreservedly. On October 7, during a Task Force meeting, Mr. Tapia attacked me because of my race. I said I felt unsafe seeing a Black Lives Matter logo. Mr. Tapia said I, “this young, white man”, could not dispute him, a black man, or BLM based on my race.
I was attacked by another Task Force member, Roni Sarig, a teacher at Rye High; he also attacked my father, who is not on the Task Force, saying my father and I have a history of making unfounded claims.
Task Force member Spencer Schultz, a Rye High senior, published an “opinion” on MyRye.com, which breached the confidentiality agreement.
Instead of protecting me from attacks by the Task Force members, Superintendent Dr. Eric Byrne removed me from the Task Force.
On November 24, Dr. Byrne sent me an email with the following summons that made me feel as though I were on trial:
“It has been alleged that you have engaged in the following conduct which may have caused or has caused a material disruption in the effective operation of the task force and/or the fulfillment of its charge and/or mission:
- On or about October 7, 2020 you referred to a certain organization and/or entity as a terrorist organization;
- On or about October 5, 2020 you contacted and/or met with certain select members of the task force to discuss matters related to the work of the task force without notice to and/or authorization from the task force;
- On or about October 5, 2020 you attempted to have select members of the task force perform a certain task and/or tasks without notice to and/or authorization from the task force;
- On or about October 7, 2020 you provided the email addresses of certain task force members to a third party without notice to and/or authorization from the task force or the affected members;
- On or about October 7, 2020 you provided certain false and/or misleading and/or inaccurate information to the media and/or other third parties concerning the task force and/or its work.
I have scheduled a meeting for December 3 at 3:30 PM for the purposes of providing you with a full and fair opportunity to be heard regarding the allegations. Thereafter, a determination will be made as to whether you will be permitted to continue to serve as a member of the task force.”
During the December 3 hearing, I answered all the presented allegations with either an exculpating affirmative defense or a denial of the allegation. Dr. Byrne did not controvert any of my statements. I asked him if there was a form for getting “authorization” from the Task Force, but he did not answer. I requested that Louis Tapia, Roni Sarig, and Spencer Schultz be removed from the Task Force. Dr. Byrne did not respond to these requests.
Dr. Byrne removed me from the Task Force without providing me an opportunity to be heard. He summoned me on November 24, nine days in advance of the December 3 hearing. It appears that he had actually removed me before the hearing, because he did not invite me to the Task Force meeting on December 2. In my absence, I was blamed for disrupting the Task Force operations; Ms. Zwerger claimed that I “had done harm”, and I was referred to as “a heretic”.