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A Strange Case of Discrimination


Schools Official to Investigate Dismissal of Asian Students

School Chancellor Harold O. Levy has assigned a superintendent to link into possible discrimination against Asian immigrant students at Lafayette High School in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn, school officials said yesterday.

Last September, five Chinese students beginning their senior year were forced to leave Lafayette without prior notice on the ground that they had completed their graduation requirements. The students, however, did not want to leave because they felt they needed more preparation for college.

After a petition drive by scores of Chinese students angry at the dismissals, the Board of Education let the dismissed students return to Layette to complete their senior year. The students have complained that the treatment of the dismissed students reflects wider hostility toward Asian-Americans at the school.

To examine conditions at the school, Chancellor Levy assigned Ronald Woo, the superintendent of monitoring for the school system, to produce a report and some recommendations by October 1 about improving race relations at the school, said Margie Feinberg, a spokeswoman for Mr. Levy.

The school system has taken other steps to address the concerns. Reyes Irazarry, the superintendent of Brooklyn and Staten Island high schools, issued a plan recommending that the first fall-semester letter to parents be translated into various languages.  He also recommended that the school's new acting principal--the fifth in five years--hold monthly parent forums. And he called for improvement in the school's multicultural education programs. The plan was posted on the internet last week.  

by Vilu Zhao, The New York Times, August 28, 2001



Class Discussion

What would you have done if you were the parent of one of the children taken out of school?  Are the suggestions of Mr. Irazarry enough to solve the problem?