|New Dorp High School assistant principal Deborah Morse-Cunningham|
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DOE to probe Staten Island assistant principal for racially charged Facebook post
The city says it’s launching a probe into a Staten Island assistant principal after a racially charged screed against people who wear $200 sneakers while living on public assistance was posted to her Facebook page, The Post has learned.
A woman who answered a call placed to a number listed as Morse-Cunningham’s said she didn’t know her.
|A New Dorp High School assistant principal is under investigation after she allegedly |
made a Facebook post that is being criticized by hundreds of social media users.
(Staten Island Advance/Jan Somma-Hammel)
The Facebook post, allegedly posted by Deborah Morse-Cunningham, an assistant principal at New Dorp High School, is being criticized by hundreds of social media users.
A Change.org petition -- which has more than 1,700 signatures as of Sunday evening -- was created by a “concerned parent” calling for her removal from her position at New Dorp High School. The concerned parent said Morse-Cunningham “decided to use her platform and social media presence to post anti-Black messaging during this time,” according to the petition’s description.
“The DOE stands against racism and schools must be safe and inclusive learning environments,” said Miranda Barbot, a spokesperson for the DOE. “Teachers and staff have a responsibility to uphold those values, and the principal reported this incident for investigation.”
The now-deleted Facebook post is circulating on social media via screenshots. The creator of the petition said the alleged post details “vicious stereotypes and racial profiling directed at the Black community.”
“As someone responsible for the tutelage of our youth, this is especially troubling and problematic rhetoric to say the least. This leads me to question what kind of practices she’s instilled in the culture at New Dorp High School, and what kind of environment our children are learning in, especially Black youth,” the petition said.
According to screenshots on social media, the alleged post reads: “Privilege is wearing $300 Beats headphones while living on public assistance. Privilege is having a Smartphone with a Data plan which you receive no bill for. Privilege is living in public subsidized housing where you don’t have a water bill, where rising property taxes and rents and energy costs have absolutely no effect on the amount of food you can put on your table. Privilege is the ability to go march against, and protest against anything that triggers you, without worrying about calling out of work and the consequences that accompany such behavior.”
As of Sunday, Morse-Cunningham’s Facebook page was no longer available, including the Facebook post. An attempt by an SILive.com/Staten Island Advance reporter to reach her by phone on Sunday was unsuccessful.
The alleged Facebook post was made as Black Lives Matter marches are occurring across the United States, including peaceful marches on Staten Island, following the death of George Floyd who died in police custody in Minneapolis. Video showed a cop kneeling on Floyd’s neck for nearly nine minutes before his death.
In recent weeks, hundreds of protestors have marched on the NYPD’s 120th Precinct in St. George, the 121st Precinct in Graniteville the 122nd Precinct in New Dorp and the 123rd Precinct in Tottenville, stretching from the southern to northern tip of the borough.
LETTER SENT TO PARENTS
Principal Deirdre DeAngelis sent a letter to parents and guardians about the post, which was shared on New Dorp High School’s website.
“I am writing to you to inform you that we were made aware of a highly inappropriate social media post that was allegedly posted by a school employee,” the letter said.
DeAngelis said in the letter that the matter is being taken very seriously and has been reported to the appropriate investigatory office -- which was confirmed by the DOE.
“We want to assure you that New Dorp High School does not stand for or condone language that promotes intolerance of hatred of any kind. The words contained in the post go against the beliefs and values of our school and do not represent us in any way. New Dorp High School will continue to work extremely hard to establish a supportive, uplifting, and caring community that prides itself on inclusion, understand, and acceptance,” said the letter.