Author Topic: Roomful of Rich, White NYC Parents Get Big Mad at Plan to Diversify Neighborhood  (Read 8024 times)

Offline Vic Vega

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The Root-Anne Branigin

Anyone laboring under the delusion that New York City is a progressive bastion need look no further than the city’s school system, which remains among the most segregated in the country.

In an effort to fight that trend, which has only gotten worse thanks to gentrification, rising income and wealth inequality throughout the city’s five boroughs, schools on the Upper West Side—one of the wealthiest and whitest sections of Manhattan—are looking to adopt a plan that would require all local middle schools to reserve a quarter of their seats for students who score below grade level on state English and math tests.

Offline Battle

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Thursday, 17th December 2015
Diversity Matters: Why American Universities Need Affirmative Action
by Midwin Charles

Diversity in higher education still matters.

The shadow of slavery and present-day slanted socio-economic policies continue to deny Black students access to top universities in far greater numbers than their White counterparts.

While affirmative action programs have been one of few functional remedies, challenges to weaken if not eliminate it remain.

The landmark 1978 University of California v. Bakke U.S. Supreme Court (the Court) affirmative action case held that racial quotas could not be used in admissions, but that race could be considered as a factor to promote diversity in the classroom.

In a direct challenge to Bakke, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals held in 1996 in Hopwood v. Texas that race could not be a factor in admission.

This meant that public institutions in Texas, Louisiana and Mississippi could not consider race to reach its diversity goals.

The University of Texas appealed, but the Court declined to hear the case.

In 2003, the Court decided more challenges to affirmative action.

In Gratz v. Bollinger the Court held that the admissions policy at the University of Michigan’s undergraduate program, which granted points to minority applicants, was unconstitutional because the point system did not allow for individual review of the applicants.

In a separate challenge that same year, the Court, in Grutter v. Bollinger, held that the University of Michigan’s law school admissions policy was constitutional because it considered race along with other factors.

The Bakke and Bolinger cases made clear that affirmative action policies are only constitutional if they consider race as a factor in an individualized review and only for the goal of achieving diversity in the classroom.

In writing the majority opinion in 2003 in Grutter, Justice Sandra Day O’Connor said “we expect that 25 years from now, the use of racial preferences will no longer be necessary to further the interest [in student body diversity] approved today.”

In just 12 years since Grutter, the Court is now poised to decide whether diversity in higher education still matters and whether affirmative action remains a viable tool to achieve it.

Despite recent racial turmoil at predominantly White colleges and studies supporting the importance of diversity in higher education, the Court will decide Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin, the latest in a long line of cases where racially conscious decision making in college admissions is challenged.

Abigail Fisher, a White former applicant who was not admitted to the University of Texas at Austin (UT), claimed in a lawsuit against the University in 2008 that she was denied admission because she is White.

The case was before the Supreme Court two years prior, but the Court sent it back to the lower court, which had ruled in favor of the policy, to perform more analysis of the university’s rationale for considering race and whether race-neutral alternatives could improve diversity on campus.

The lower court upheld the policy and Fisher appealed.

UT admits the top 10 percent of all Texas public high school students. Fisher, who was not in the top 10 percent of her class, focuses her challenge on the admissions policies used to admit the remaining students.

UT applies a “holistic” review, which considers an applicant’s leadership qualities, contributions to society, extra-curricular activities, socio-economic status and race.

It is noteworthy that UT maintains that Fisher would not have been admitted to UT even if she were a minority, because she had mediocre grades and SAT scores and did not demonstrate the leadership qualities desired.

During last Wednesday’s argument, Justice Antonin Scalia suggested that rather than place unprepared Black students in a top state school like UT “where they do not do well,” they should be sent “to a less-advanced school, a slower-track school where they do well.”

Scalia’s suggestion erroneously assumes Black students admitted at UT and other top schools are poorly prepared and under perform.

Notwithstanding, perhaps it is Abigail Fisher, rather than the minority students UT admitted in her place, who benefitted from a slower-track, less advanced institution.

Given her mediocre credentials, if Justice Scalia is correct, Ms. Fisher should have done well at Louisiana State University, the school she ultimately attended and graduated.

Universities must be able to obtain a diverse student body to combat racial stereotypes and encourage diverse ideas in the classroom.

The mere fact the Court agreed to hear Fisher again is not a good sign for affirmative action as it signals that the Court does not believe the issue is settled.

Would you Like To Know More?
« Last Edit: March 12, 2019, 10:29:47 am by Battle »

Offline Hypestyle

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all of these anti-affirmative action activists need to have a seat.  especially Ward Connerly.
Be Kind to Someone Today.

Offline Battle

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Friday, 5th April 2019
They Had It Coming
by Caitlin Flanagan

Sweet Christ, vindication!

How long has it been?


No, decades.

If hope is the thing with feathers, I was a plucked bird.

Long ago, I surrendered myself to the fact that the horrible, horrible private-school parents of Los Angeles would get away with their nastiness forever.

But even before the molting, never in my wildest imaginings had I dared to dream that the arc of the moral universe could describe a 90-degree angle and smite down mine enemies with such a hammer fist of fire and fury that even I have had a moment of thinking, Could this be a bit too much?

Let’s back up.

Thirty years ago, having tapped out of a Ph.D. program, I moved to Los Angeles (long story) and got hired at the top boys’ school in the city, which would soon become co-educational.

For the first four years, I taught English.

Best job I’ve ever had.

For the next three, I was a college counselor.

Worst job I’ve ever had.

When I was a teacher, my job was a source of self-respect; I had joined a great tradition.

I was a young woman from a certain kind of good but not moneyed family who could exchange her only salable talents—an abiding love of books and a fondness for teenagers—for a job.

Poor, obscure, plain, and little, I would drive though the exotic air of early-morning Los Angeles to the school, which was on a street with a beautiful name, Coldwater Canyon, in a part of the city originally designated the Central Motion Picture District.

It sat on a plot of land that in the 1920s composed part of the Hollywood Hills Country Club, an institution that has a Narnia-like aspect, in that not even the California historian Kevin Starr knew whether it ever really existed, or whether it was merely a fiction promoted by real-estate developers trying to entice new homeowners to the Edenic San Fernando Valley.

Across from a round tower connecting the upper and lower campuses was Saint Saviour’s, a chapel that the founders of the school built in 1914 as an exact replica of the one built in 1567 for the Rugby School in England, with pews facing the center aisle in the Tudor style.

This combination of the possibly imaginary country club and the assumption behind the building of the chapel—get the set right, and you can make the whole production work—seemed to me like something from an Evelyn Waugh novel.

But it also meant that—unlike Exeter or Choate—this school was a place where I could belong.
There were no traditions, no expectation of familiarity with the Book of Common Prayer.

All you needed to have was a piercing love of your subject and a willingness to enter into an apprenticeship with great teachers.

I had those things.

This was before cellphones and laptops, and in the chalk-dusted eternity of a 42-minute class period, there was such a thrumming, adolescent need for stimulation that when I opened whatever book we were reading—all of them great, all of them chosen by teachers far more thoughtful and experienced than I—and began reading aloud, the stream of words was the only thing going, and many of the students couldn’t help themselves from slipping into that stream and letting it carry them along.

I did not come from a religious family, but we had a god, and the god was art, specifically literature.

Taking a job teaching “Ozymandias” to a new generation was, for me, the equivalent of taking religious orders.

And so when a job opened in the college-counseling office, I should not have taken it.

My god was art, not the SAT.

In my excitement at this apparent promotion, I did not pause to consider that my beliefs about the new work at hand made me, at best, a heretic.

I honestly believed—still believe—that hundreds of very good colleges in the country have reasonable admissions requirements; that if you’ve put in your best effort, a B is a good grade; and that expecting adolescents to do five hours of homework on top of meeting time-consuming athletic demands is, in all but exceptional cases, child abuse.

Most of all, I believed that if you had money for college and a good high-school education under your belt, you were on third base headed for home plate with the ball soaring high over the bleachers.

I did not know—even after four years at the institution—that the school’s impressive matriculation list was not the simple by-product of excellent teaching, but was in fact the end result of parental campaigns undertaken with the same level of whimsy with which the Japanese Navy bombed Pearl Harbor.

Every parent assumed that whatever alchemy of good genes and good credit had gotten his child a spot at the prep school was the same one that would land him a spot at a hyper-selective college.

It was true that a quarter of the class went to the Ivy League, and another quarter to places such as Stanford, MIT, and Amherst.

But that still left half the class, and I was the one who had to tell their parents that they were going to have to be flexible.

Before each meeting, I prepared a list of good colleges that the kid had a strong chance of getting into, but these parents didn’t want colleges their kids had a strong chance of getting into; they wanted colleges their kids didn’t have a chance in hell of getting into.

A successful first meeting often consisted of walking them back from the crack pipe of Harvard to the Adderall crash of Middlebury and then scheduling a follow-up meeting to douse them with the bong water of Denison.

The new job meant that I had signed myself up to be locked in a small office, appointment after appointment, with hugely powerful parents and their mortified children as I delivered news so grimly received that I began to think of myself less as an administrator than as an oncologist.
Along the way they said such crass things, such rude things, such greedy things, and such borderline-racist things that I began to hate them.

They, in turn, began to hate me.

A college counselor at an elite prep school is supposed to be a combination of cheerleader, concierge, and talent agent, radically on the side of each case and applying steady pressure on the dream college to make it happen.

At the very least, the counselor is not supposed to be an adversary.

I just about got an ulcer sitting in that office listening to rich people complaining bitterly about an “unfair” or a “rigged” system.

Sometimes they would say things so outlandish that I would just stare at them, trying to beam into their mind the question, Can you hear yourself?

That so many of them were (literal) limousine liberals lent the meetings an element of radical chic.

They were down for the revolution, but there was no way their kid was going to settle for Lehigh.

Some of the parents—especially, in those days, the fathers—were such powerful professionals, and I (as you recall) was so poor, obscure, plain, and little that it was as if they were cracking open a cream puff with a panzer.

This was before crying in the office was a thing, so I had to just sit there and take it.

Then the admissions letters arrived from the colleges.

If the kid got in, it was because he was a genius; if he didn’t, it was because I screwed up.
When a venture capitalist and his ageless wife storm into your boss’s office to get you fired because you failed to get their daughter (conscientious, but no atom splitter) into the prestigious school they wanted, you can really start to question whether it’s worth the 36K.

Sometimes, in anger and frustration, the parents would blame me for the poor return on investment they were getting on their years of tuition payments.

At that point, I was living in a rent-controlled apartment and paying $198 a month on a Civic with manual windows.

I was in no position to evaluate their financial strategies.

Worst of all, the helpless kid would be sitting right there, shrinking into the couch cushions as his parents all but said that his entire secondary education had been a giant waste of money.
The parents would simmer down a bit, and the four of us would stew in misery. Nobody wanted to hear me read “Ozymandias.”

I will now add as a very truthful disclaimer that the horrible parents constituted at most 25 percent of the total, that the rest weren’t just unobjectionable, but many—perhaps most—were lovely people who were so wise about parenting that when I had children of my own, I often remembered things they had told me.

But that 25 percent was a lesson that a lifetime of reading novels hadn’t yet taught me.

In the classroom I was Jane Eyre, strong and tranquil in the truth of my gifts; in the college-counseling office, I was the nameless heroine of Rebecca, running up and down the servant stairs at the Hôtel d’Azur as Mrs. Van Hopper barked at me.

During those three years before the mast, I saw no evidence of any of the criminal activity that the current scandal has delivered.

But I absolutely saw the raw materials that William Rick Singer would use to create his scam. The system, even 25 years ago, was full of holes.

The first was sports.

Legacy admissions have often been called affirmative action for white people, but the rich-kid sports—water polo, tennis, swimming, gymnastics, volleyball, and even (God help us all) sailing and actual polo—are the true affirmative action for the rich.

I first became acquainted with this fact when I was preparing for a meeting with the parents of a girl who was a strong but not dazzling student; the list her parents had submitted, however, consisted almost exclusively of Ivy League colleges.

I brought her file in to my boss for guidance.

She looked it over and then, noticing something in the section on extracurricular activities and tapping it decisively with her pen, said, “Oh, she’ll get in—volleyball.”


Yale was going to let her in—above half a dozen much more academically qualified and many much more interesting kids on my roster—because she played volleyball?

I soon learned that the coaches of all these sports were allowed a certain number of recruits each year, and that so long as a kid met basic academic qualifications—which our kids easily did—the coaches got their way.

I never heard an admissions person question a coach; “She’s on the soccer list,” the admissions person would say, and we’d move on to the next kid.

The second flaw in the system was an important change to the way untimed testing is reported to the colleges.

When I began the job, the SAT and the ACT offered untimed testing to students with learning disabilities, provided that they had been diagnosed by a professional.

However, an asterisk appeared next to untimed scores, alerting the college that the student had taken the test without a time limit.

But during my time at the school, this asterisk was found to violate the Americans With Disabilities Act, and the testing companies dropped it.

Suddenly it was possible for everyone with enough money to get a diagnosis that would grant their kid two full days—instead of four hours—to take the SAT, and the colleges would never know.

Today, according to Slate, “in places like Greenwich, Conn., and certain zip codes of New York City and Los Angeles, the percentage of untimed test-taking is said to be close to 50 percent.”

Taking a test under normal time limits in one of these neighborhoods is a sucker’s game—you’ve voluntarily handicapped yourself.

And, finally, there were large parts of the process over which no one entity had complete oversight.

The kids were encouraged, but not required, to bring us their essays.

Ditto the lists of extracurricular activities they were required to submit to the colleges.

The holy trinity of documents—transcript, test scores, and teacher recommendations—never touches the kids’ hands.

But the veracity of everything else depends on a tremendous leap of good faith on the part of the admissions offices.

And it was through these broken saloon doors—the great power conferred on coaches, untimed testing, and the ease with which an application can be crammed with false information—that Singer pushed unqualified students into colleges they wanted to attend.

He told the parents to get their kids diagnosed with learning disabilities, and then arranged for them to take the test alone in a room with a fake proctor—someone who was so skilled at taking these tests that he could (either by correcting the student’s test before submitting it or by simply taking the thing himself) arrive at whatever score the client requested.

(“I own two schools,” Singer told a client about the testing sites, one in West Hollywood and the other in Houston, where his fake proctors could do their work.)

He allowed coaches to monetize any extra spots on their recruitment lists by selling them to his clients.

And he offered a service that he called “cleaning up” the transcript, which involved, at the very least, having his employees take online courses in the kids’ name and then adding those A’s to their record.

All this malfeasance has led to the creation of a 200-page affidavit, and a bevy of other court documents, that can best be described as a kind of posthumous Tom Wolfe novella, one with a wide cast of very rich people behaving in such despicable ways that it makes The Bonfire of the Vanities look like The Pilgrim’s Progress.

If you have not read the affidavit, and if you’re in the mood for a novel of manners of the kind not attempted since the passing of the master, I recommend that you and your book club put it on the list for immediate consumption.

The one compliment the FBI paid the indicted parents is that it took college admissions as seriously as they did.

The investigation included wiretaps, stakeouts, reviews of bank statements, travel records, cell-site data, emails, and interviews with cooperating witnesses—chief among them Singer, who seems not simply to have thrown his clients under a bus, but rather to have taken them to Port Authority and thrown them under an entire fleet.

How did his scam come to light?

Let the reader be introduced to Morrie Tobin, upon whose character and doings much will depend.
A 55-year-old stockbroker and father of six who lives in the elegant Los Angeles neighborhood of Hancock Park, he got pinched last spring for an SEC violation that allegedly defrauded clients of millions of dollars.

Desperate to lighten his punishment, the Los Angeles Times reported, he offered an unrelated claim:

There was a Yale soccer coach, Rudy Meredith, who accepted bribes to let kids into the university. Of all the things Tobin could have given up, this seems an especially cruel one—he had two daughters enrolled at Yale, one had graduated from the university, and a fourth had recently been accepted.
At the very least, this revelation put their admissions in an unflattering light.
The FBI had Tobin wear a wire to a private meeting with the coach, during which Singer’s name came up, and from there the full investigation—“Varsity Blues”—began.

Most of the families involved in the scandal lived in the California dreamscapes of a Nancy Myers movie:

Newport Beach, Hillsborough, Laguna Beach, San Francisco, Del Mar, Ross.

The out-of-staters are no slouches either. One family divides its time between Aspen and New York; another lives in Greenwich.

Let’s start there, in Greenwich, where not getting your kid into the right college is cause for seppuku.

We are in the home of Gordon Caplan and his wife, Amy.

Gordon was—until placed on “leave” post-indictment—the co-chairman of a New York–based global law firm, where he was a partner in the private-equity group.

Amy is the heiress daughter of the late telecommunications magnate Richard Treibick.

He also lived in Greenwich, summering in the Hamptons in a 32-acre spread in Sagaponack that included a seven-bedroom house on the dunes with a pool overlooking the ocean, which his family sold shortly after his death in 2014 for a reported $35 million.

(Caplan has not commented publicly on the allegations contained in the filings, or entered a plea; he was scheduled to make his first court appearance on Wednesday.)

Gordon graduated from Cornell, but ended up pursuing his law degree at sweaty-browed Fordham, suggesting the combination of privilege and hustle that can really get a certain kind of guy ahead.

He was the board chairman of the world’s most quixotic nonprofit organization, Publicolor, which seeks to “improve education in youth by promoting an imaginative use of color in school buildings.”

In 2018—the year he was negotiating with Singer about his daughter’s future—The American Lawyer magazine named him Dealmaker of the Year.

He seems to have had Cornell on his mind for his daughter, having dramatically upped his annual giving to the low six figures during her sophomore and junior years of high school.

But her grades and scores were apparently too low for the traditional approach, and he and Singer began talking about a scheme.

“What is the, what is the, the number?” he asks Singer, “at Cornell for instance.”

“Hold on a second,” Singer says, carefully bleeding his client one pint at a time.

“The number on the testing is $75,000.” (Singer seems to have operated on a sliding scale.

He charged Caplan $75,000 for the testing scam, yet he charged Felicity Huffman only $15,000. Perhaps The American Lawyer needs to cast a wider net when selecting its Dealmakers of the Year.)

“I can do anything and everything, if you guys are amenable to doing it,” he tells Caplan, explaining the elaborate system he employed to falsify test scores:

“I can guarantee her a score.”

Caplan takes a few hours to digest this idea, and then has a second phone call with Singer.
“This notion of effectively going in, flying out to L.A., sitting with your proctor, and taking the exam is pretty interesting.”

“It’s the homerun of homeruns,” Singer tells him.

“So, how do I get this done with you?” Caplan asks. “What do I need to do?”

« Last Edit: April 05, 2019, 03:02:51 pm by Battle »

Offline Battle

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Singer gives an interesting answer:

“I’m gonna talk to our psychologist, and we may have to send her to you, or you to her.”

Sure enough, per the criminal complaint, “On or about July 21, 2018, CAPLAN and his daughter flew to Los Angeles to meet with a psychologist in an effort to obtain the medical documentation required to receive extended time on the ACT exam.”

This is the only section of the complaint that mentions the character of “our psychologist.”
There are more educational psychologists in Greenwich, Connecticut, than there are Labrador retrievers.

Hotfoot it over to New Haven or Manhattan, and you have to beat them off with a stick.

Why was Singer so certain that this particular psychologist would produce the documentation the student needed?

The government is clearly continuing its investigation—student records have been subpoenaed from several private schools in Los Angeles, and it’s not hard to imagine that more indictments, perhaps many more, are coming.

“Our psychologist” might play a role in these investigations.

The problem with getting newly diagnosed with a learning disability in 11th or 12th grade is that the companies that own the tests know they’re probably being manipulated, and will often deny the application for untimed testing.

Sure enough, the ACT denied the Caplan daughter’s first request, and also her appeal.

But then, a surprising bit of good news.

“You were right,” Caplan tells Singer; “it was like third time was the charm … Everybody was telling us there’s no way, and then all of a sudden it comes in.”

But one of the delights of this novel is that the reader is often in possession of information the main characters lack.

While Caplan crows, we smirk:

“The ACT ultimately granted CAPLAN’S daughter extended time on the exam at the request of law enforcement.”

The only obstacle Caplan has in executing his plan (other than the FBI, but that outfit is still months away from making itself known to him) is the old ball and chain.

In the obdurate way of heiresses who grew up in the cleansing sea air of Sagaponack summers and not amid the hard-roll-with-butter realities of Fordham Law, she has her niceties.

In July, when both Amy and Gordon get on speakerphone with Singer, the con man suggests having one of his operatives take an online class for their daughter as a means of bringing up her GPA.
But “CAPLAN’s spouse replied that she had a ‘problem with that.’”

Caplan grabs the phone off the cradle, effectively taking Miss Scruples off the call.

“It’s just you and me,” he tells Singer. “Is that kosher?”

No, it’s not kosher. Obviously.

“Absolutely,” Singer says. “I do it all the time man.”

By November, the Gordon/Amy situation had reached one of those marital impasses in which Partner A is going ahead with something Partner B thinks is messed up, but isn’t willing to outright squash, because who knows?

Maybe it will work.

It’s a high-risk/high-reward prospect for Partner A.

“I’m taking [Amy] off of this,” Caplan tells Singer at one point; [Amy] is very nervous about all this.”

But the Dealmaker of the Year spent considerable time kicking the tires on this one.

“Keep in mind I am a lawyer,” Caplan said at one point, according to the affidavit.

“So I’m sort of rules oriented.”

And, later, “I’m not worried about the moral issue here. I’m worried about the, if she’s caught doing that, you know, she’s finished.”

Much of the discussion of this scandal has centered on the corruption in the college-admissions process.

But think about the kinds of jobs that the indicted parents held.

Four of them worked in private equity, a fifth in the field of “investments,” others in real-estate development and the most senior management of huge corporations.

Together, they have handled billions of dollars’ worth of assets within heavily regulated fields—yet look how easily and how eagerly they allegedly embrace a crooked scheme, as quoted in the court documents.

Here is Bill McGlashan, then a senior executive at a global private-equity fund, reacting to Singer’s plan to get his son (who does not play football) admitted to USC via the football team:
“That’s just totally hilarious.”

Here is Robert Zangrillo, the founder and CEO of a private investment firm, talking with one of Singer’s employees who is planning to bring up his daughter’s grades by taking online classes in her name:

“Just makes [sic] sure it gets done as quickly as possible.”

Here is John B. Wilson, the founder and CEO of a private-equity and real-estate-development firm, on getting his son into USC using a fake record of playing water polo:

“Thanks again for making this happen!” And, “What are the options for the payment?

Can we make it for consulting or whatever … so that I can pay it from the corporate account?”

He can.


Here is Douglas Hodge, the former CEO of a large investment-management company, learning from Singer that his son will be admitted to USC via a bribery scheme, and that it’s time to send a check:

“Fanstatic [sic]!! Will do.”

The word entitlement—even in its full, splendid range of meanings—doesn’t begin to cover the attitudes on display.

Devin Sloane is the CEO of a Los Angeles company that deals in wastewater management.

Through Singer, he allegedly bribed USC to get his son admitted as a water-polo player.

But a guidance counselor at his school learned of the scheme and contacted USC—the boy did not play the sport; something was clearly awry.

Singer smoothed it over, but the whole incident enraged Sloane:

“The more I think about this, it is outrageous! They have no business or legal right considering all the students privacy issues to be calling and challenging/question [my son’s] application,” he wrote to Singer.

There are several instances of college counselors gumming up the works with their small-timers’ insistence on ethical behavior.

That someone as lowly, as contemptibly puny, as a guidance counselor should interfere with a rich person’s desires is the cause of electric rage.

For this reason, after having read the 200-page affidavit many times and trying to be as objective as possible, I had to conclude that the uncontested winners of Worst People (So Far) to Be Indicted are Lori Loughlin, an actress, and her husband, Mossimo Giannulli, a designer.
When a college counselor at their daughter’s high school realized something was suspicious about her admission to USC and asked the girl about it, the parents roared onto campus in such a rage that they almost blew up the whole scam.

The couple paid $500,000 to get both of their daughters into USC on the preposterous claim that they rowed crew.

Their daughter Olivia has become a particularly ridiculed character in the saga, because there are pre-indictment videos in which she describes both her lack of desire to attend college and how rarely she attended high school during her senior year.

But I have sympathy for her.

She knew higher education wasn’t where she belonged, but her parents insisted that she go.

Up until the scandal, the girl had a thriving cosmetics line, was a popular YouTuber, and was clearly making the best of what Hillary Clinton would call her God-given potential.

Now she’s a punch line, and Sephora has pulled her products off the shelves.

The court filings don’t state when the parents began working with Singer, but they appear to have felt a sense of urgency on April 22, 2016, when they took part in a standard component of prep-school college counseling:

the family meeting with a college counselor during spring of junior year.

“We just met with [Olivia’s] college counselor this am,” Giannulli wrote in an email to Singer.
“I’d like to maybe sit with you after your session with the girls as I have some concerns and want to fully understand the game plan … as it relates to [her] and getting her into a school other than ASU!”

Mentioning Arizona State University to the private-school parents of a freshman is the equivalent of throwing a flash-bang grenade; it won’t kill anyone, but it will sure as hell get their attention.

But mention it to the parents of a second-semester junior, and you’re no longer issuing warnings.

ASU is the unconditional surrender.

“If you want SC,” Singer replies, “I have the game plan ready to go into motion.”

But the college counselor at the girls’ high school had always doubted that the first girl rowed crew; when the second one got into the same school for the same reason, she realized that something suspicious was going on.

She confronted the girl.

The counselor was acting honorably.

Loughlin and Giannulli—if the affidavit is to be believed—were in the midst of a criminal operation.

Yet instead of hanging his head in shame, Giannulli apparently roared onto the high-school campus apoplectic.

Singer got a panicked email from his USC contact:

“I just want to make sure that, you know, I don’t want the … parents getting angry and creating any type of disturbance at the school … I just don’t want anybody going into … [the daughter’s high school] you know, yelling at counselors. That’ll shut everything—that’ll shut everything down.”

It’s hell on Earth for college counselors when people like this show up angry that their kid didn’t get an acceptance from Williams.

But to endure it because you’ve gotten in the way of a giant scam?


One way or another, the counselor was impelled — I would imagine by some freaked out higher-up—to send the parents an email:

I wanted to provide you with an update on the status of [your younger daughter’s] admission offer to USC.

First and foremost, they have no intention of rescinding [her] admission and were surprised to hear that was even a concern for you and your family. You can verify that with [the USC senior assistant director of admissions] … if you would like. I also shared with [the USC senior assistant director of admission] that you had visited this morning and affirmed for me that [your younger daughter] is truly a coxswain.

As Jerry Maguire said about being a sports agent, being a prep-school college counselor is an “up-at-dawn, pride-swallowing siege.”

But no work of fiction could prepare these employees for the fact that there are now L.A. private-school parents who are intent on maligning the guidance counselors whom they have decided must have been in on the scheme.

The president of one school sent this email to parents:

“I want to emphasize that I have absolute confidence in the honesty of our deans, the accuracy of the information they provide to colleges and their focus on personal character in the guidance they provide our students.”

Honesty of the deans?

It’s the dishonesty of the parents that’s the problem.

Ever since the scandal became public, two opinions have been widely expressed.

The first is that the schemes it revealed are not much different from the long-standing admissions preference for big donors, and the second is that these admissions gained on fraudulent grounds have harmed underprivileged students.

These aren’t quite right.

As off-putting as most of us find the role that big-ticket fundraising plays in elite-college admissions, those monies go toward programs and facilities that will benefit a wide number of students—new dormitories, new libraries, enriched financial-aid funds are often the result of rich parents being tapped for gifts at admissions time.

But the Singer scheme benefits no one at all except the individual students, and the people their parents paid off.

The argument that the scheme hurt disadvantaged applicants—or even just non-rich applicants who needed financial aid to attend these stratospherically expensive colleges—isn’t right either.
Elite colleges pay deep attention to the issue of enrollment management; the more elite the institution, the more likely it is to be racially and socioeconomically diverse.

This is in part because attaining this kind of diversity has become a foundational goal of most admissions offices, and also because the elite colleges have the money to make it happen.

In 2017, Harvard announced with great fanfare that it had enrolled its first class in which white students were in the minority.

When I was a prep-school college counselor 25 years ago, I thought that whatever madness was whirring through the minds of the parents was a blip of group insanity that would soon abate.

It has only gotten more and more extreme.

Anyone can understand a parent’s disappointment if he had thought for 17 years that his child would go to Yale one day, only to learn that it’s not in the cards.

But what accounted for the intensity of emotion these parents expressed, their sense of a profound loss, of rage at being robbed of what they believed was rightfully theirs?

They were experiencing the same response to a changing America that ultimately brought Donald Trump to office:

white displacement and a revised social contract.

The collapse of manufacturing jobs has been to poor whites what the elite college-admissions crunch has been to wealthy ones:

a smaller and smaller slice of pie for people who were used to having the fattest piece of all.

In the recent past—the past in which this generation of parents grew up—a white student from a professional-class or wealthy family who attended either a private high school or a public one in a prosperous school district was all but assured admission at a “good” college.

It wasn’t necessarily going to be Harvard or Yale, but it certainly might be Bowdoin or Northwestern.

That was the way the system worked.

But today, there’s a squeeze on those kids.

The very strong but not spectacular white student from a good high school is now trying to gain access to an ever-shrinking pool of available spots at the top places.

He’s not the inherently attractive prospect he once was.

These parents—many of them avowed Trump haters—are furious that what once belonged to them has been taken away, and they are driven mad with the need to reclaim it for their children.

The changed admissions landscape at the elite colleges is the aspect of American life that doesn’t feel right to them; it’s the lost thing, the arcadia that disappeared so slowly they didn’t even realize it was happening until it was gone.

They can’t believe it—they truly can’t believe it—when they realize that even the colleges they had assumed would be their child’s back-up, emergency plan probably won’t accept them.

They pay thousands and thousands of dollars for untimed testing and private counselors; they scour lists of board members at colleges, looking for any possible connections; they pay for enhancing summer programs that only underscore their children’s privilege.

And—as poor whites did in the years leading up to 2016—they complain about it endlessly.

At every parent coffee, silent auction, dinner party, Clippers game, book club, and wine tasting, someone is bitching about admissions.

And some of these parents, it turns out, haven’t just been bitching; some of them decided to go MAGA.

« Last Edit: April 05, 2019, 03:06:29 pm by Battle »

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And so it was that at 5:59 on the morning of March 12 in the sacramentally beautiful section of the Hollywood Hills called Outpost Estates, all was quiet, save for the sounds of the natural world.

In the mid-century modern house of a beloved actress—a champion of progressive values, as is her husband—and two lovely daughters, everyone slept.

But at the strike of 6:00, there was the kind of unholy pounding at the door that must have sounded more like an earthquake than a visitor:

FBI agents, guns drawn, there to apprehend … Felicity Huffman?

Felicity “Congress is attempting to eviscerate women’s health care. Like many women across America, I am outraged” Huffman?

For the crime of … paying to get her daughter an extra 400 points on the SAT?

Down, down, down she went in the FBI car, in her handcuffs and athleisure, down below Outpost, down below Lake Hollywood, down below the Dolby Theatre where she had been so many times—in a beautiful gown, with her famous husband, William H. Macy, beside her—to watch the Academy Awards, once as a nominee.

All the way down to—my God!—the downest place of all:

Spring Street. The federal courthouse!

This was where drumphf was supposed to go, not Felicity Huffman.

Cool your heels, defender of the downtrodden:

There is no rushing through all this — the mug shot, the phone call, the hearing.

And this can’t even be grist for the mill of a new devotion to the plight of American mass incarceration.

You’re now Exhibit A of law enforcement finally treating rich, white Americans as unsparingly as it treats poor, black ones.

All she wanted was an even playing field for her rich, white daughter!

All she wanted was a few hundred SAT points so the girl didn’t get lost in the madness that has made college admissions so stressful, so insane, so broken, so unfair.

“We’re talking about Georgetown,” Macy informed Singer about their hopes for their younger daughter.

Fortunately for them, and for the younger daughter—and possibly for Georgetown itself—they had not employed him to work on this goal before the indictments were handed down.

Fortunately for Macy (who seems to have taken a modified Parent B position), only Huffman has been indicted in the scheme.

Huffman, like all of the other indicted parents, was expressing an attitude I first encountered not in the great books, but in the Charlie Brown Christmas special, when Sally dictates her endless list of toys to Charlie.

“All I want is what I have coming to me,” she tells him; “all I want is my fair share.”


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Wednesday, 26th June 2019
Felicity Huffman Is 'Prepared to Serve' Behind Bars If Necessary

by Paulina Jayne Isaac

It’s not over yet.

Felicity Huffman is keeping the faith nearly two months after pleading guilty to involvement in the nationwide college admissions scandal.

The Desperate Housewives alum, 56, is “hopeful that she’s a suitable candidate for a halfway house instead of prison confinement,” a source tells Us.

Either way, the actress, who made a charitable donation of $15,000 as part of the scam, is “prepared to serve the four months behind bars if that’s what she’s ordered to do,” the source adds.

Huffman announced her decision to plead guilty on April 8 2019 in her first public statement about the scandal.

“I am in full acceptance of my guilt, and with deep regret and shame over what I have done, I accept full responsibility for my actions and will accept the consequences that stem from those actions,” she said in the statement.

The actress was arrested and charged with conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services fraud in March after allegedly making “a purported charitable contribution of $15,000 … to participate in the college entrance exam cheating scheme on behalf of her eldest daughter [Sophia],” according to court documents.

“I am ashamed of the pain I have caused my daughter, my family, my friends, my colleagues and the educational community,” the actress added in her statement last month.

“I want to apologize to them and, especially, I want to apologize to the students who work hard every day to get into college, and to their parents who make tremendous sacrifices to support their children and do so honestly.”

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Thursday, 26th September 2019
College admissions scandal: Dad gets 4 months for $400,000 bribe to get son into Georgetown
by Associated Press

(BOSTON, Massachusetts) — A Los Angeles businessman was sentenced Thursday to four months in prison for paying $400,000 to get his son into Georgetown University as a fake tennis recruit.

Stephen Semprevivo, 53, pleaded guilty in May to a single count of fraud and conspiracy in a deal with prosecutors.

He is the third parent to be sentenced in a sweeping college admissions scandal that has ensnared dozens of wealthy mothers and fathers.

Authorities say Semprevivo conspired with admissions consultant William "Rick" Singer to get his son into Georgetown as a tennis recruit, even though he did not play the sport competitively.

His son was admitted to Georgetown in 2016 but was expelled over the scheme earlier this year.

Semprevivo was also sentenced to two years of supervised release, 500 hours of community service, a fine of $100,000 and possible restitution to Georgetown to be decided later.

Prosecutors recommended 13 months in prison, a $95,000 fine and restitution of at least $105,000 to cover legal fees incurred by Georgetown.

Semprevivo's lawyers said he deserved a sentence of probation or home confinement, plus 2,000 hours of community service.

In an Aug. 17 letter asking for leniency, Semprevivo said he was driven by "foolish ambition" for his son's happiness.

He said he accepts "total and full" responsibility but also said he was drawn in and manipulated by Singer.

"Looking back, I can see that Rick Singer worked me over and got me to do and believe things I am ashamed of and deeply regret," he wrote.

"I wanted the future for my son that he had worked so hard for. This was the main factor in my bad judgment."

He was accused of paying $400,000 to a sham charity operated by Singer in 2016.

Authorities say Singer then bribed Georgetown tennis coach Gordon Ernst to label Semprevivo's son and the children of other Singer clients as recruited athletes.

Singer has pleaded guilty to federal charges.

Ernst, who was fired by Georgetown, pleaded not guilty.

Days after Semprevivo pleaded guilty, his son sued Georgetown in an attempt to block his expulsion, saying the school was unfairly trying to discipline him for a scheme that it "knew or should have known about" for two years.

The lawsuit was withdrawn in July.

Prosecutors said Semprevivo deserved prison time because he failed to take full responsibility, and because he paid one of the largest bribes and enlisted his son in the scheme.

They argued that Semprevivo orchestrated his son's lawsuit against Georgetown to avoid the consequences of his actions.

"Semprevivo defrauded Georgetown, and then sought to hold Georgetown accountable (with damages) for not discovering his fraud," prosecutors wrote in a Sept. 19 court document.

"Semprevivo wants credit for contrition and acceptance of responsibility, but he exhibits neither."

Semprevivo's lawyers previously said a prison term would go too far and would harm his family.

They said his younger son, who was not involved in the scheme, suffers from a serious medical condition and that losing his father's presence "would negatively impact his recovery."

An entrepreneur who has spent much of career at technology companies, Semprevivo said he lost his job over the scandal and has been unable to find new work.

Most recently he was executive vice president of Cydcor, a California company that helps companies outsource their sales teams.

Earlier this week, Los Angeles business executive Devin Sloane was sentenced to four months in prison after pleading guilty to paying $250,000 to get his son into the University of Southern California as a fake water polo star.

Fifteen parents have pleaded guilty in the scheme, while 19 are contesting the charges, including "Full House" actress Lori Loughlin and her fashion designer husband, Mossimo Giannulli, who are accused of paying $500,000 to get their two daughters into USC as fake athletes.

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Sunday, 20th October 2019

Felicity Huffman was spotted wearing her green jumpsuit during Saturday's family visiting day at California's FCI Dublin, as she walked outside to greet her husband, William H. Macy, and daughter, Sophia, who had gone to the prison to see her.

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Tuesday, 22nd October 2019
Lori Loughlin, Other 'Varsity Blues' Parents Face New Charges
Law360, editing by Jill Coffey.

Actress Lori Loughlin and more than a dozen other parents and coaches charged in the "Varsity Blues" college admissions scandal are facing additional federal bribery counts after a Massachusetts grand jury handed up a pair of new indictments Tuesday.

The new charges, announced by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Massachusetts, were levied against Loughlin, her fashion designer husband, Mossimo Giannulli, and fellow accused parents Gamal Abdelaziz, Diane Blake, Todd Blake, Elisabeth Kimmel, William McGlashan Jr., Marci Palatella, John Wilson, Homayoun Zadeh and Robert Zangrillo. All of them have pled not guilty and are awaiting trial.

Prosecutors say the new charge stems from allegations that the parents bribed employees of the University of Southern California in order to guarantee admission for their children.

Zangrillo's attorney Martin G. Weinberg decried the new charge against his client.

“Mr. Zangrillo's daughter was neither presented to nor admitted by USC admissions as an athlete,” Weinberg told Law360.

“Today's new bribery charge is an unprecedented attempt to criminalize a donation made to a university by a parent. Mr. Zangrillo is not guilty as to each and every one of today's allegations.”

The new indictment against the parents also adds additional wire fraud and honest services wire fraud charges against four parents; Joey Chen, McGlashan, Wilson and Zangrillo. Wilson, a Massachusetts resident, is charged with two counts of substantive federal programs bribery in connection with his efforts to use bribes to secure his children’s admission to Harvard University and Stanford University, prosecutors said.

A separate indictment handed up officials at universities tied to the case with new charges.

The group includes former Georgetown tennis coach Gordon Ernst, former USC administrator Donna Heinel, former University of California, Los Angeles soccer coach Jorge Salcedo, former USC water polo coach Jovan Vavic, standardized test administrator Niki Williams, former Wake Forest volleyball coach William Ferguson and Mikaela Sanford, who worked for the scheme's admitted mastermind, William “Rick” Singer.

Each was charged with conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud and honest services mail and wire fraud.

Six members of that group — Ernst, Heinel, Salcedo, Sanford, Vavic and Williams — also now face substantive wire and honest services wire fraud charges in connection with the scheme.

Three defendants, Ernst, Heinel, and Salcedo, face new charges of conspiring to commit federal programs bribery by soliciting and accepting bribes to get students into the schools where they worked.

Ernst is also charged with substantive counts of federal programs bribery and money laundering, according to the new indictment.

“Today's charges are the result of ongoing investigation in the nationwide college admissions case,” U.S. Attorney Andrew Lelling said in a statement.

“Our goal from the beginning has been to hold the defendants fully accountable for corrupting the college admissions process through cheating, bribery and fraud. The superseding indictments will further that effort.”

The parents, coaches and others are charged with taking part in a massive scheme to grease the college admissions process for the children of wealthy parents through fake profiles indicating the students were athletes, cheating on standardized tests or both.

The new charges come a day after four other parents entered guilty pleas in Boston federal court.

During their hearings, they said the government had promised not to bring additional charges in exchange for them throwing in the towel.

Martin Fox, who ran a tennis academy in Houston and allegedly acted as a middleman for Singer, also agreed to plead guilty to a single racketeering count.

Observers of the headline-grabbing case, which investigators dubbed "Operation Varsity Blues," have said the government is taking a “hardball” tack against the wealthy parents and coaches charged in connection with the scheme, using statutes and tactics often reserved for organized crime.

Stephen G. Larson, an attorney for Vavic, the USC water polo coach, said Tuesday, "Mr. Vavic is innocent of the charges in the superseding indictment, just as he was innocent of the charges in the original indictment.

Nothing has changed except the government’s implicit acknowledgement that its original indictment was legally and factually flawed and would not survive defendants’ recently filed motions to dismiss."

Counsel for the other defendants either declined to comment or did not respond to requests for comment Tuesday afternoon. Arraignment dates have not been set.

Tuesday marked the second time the government has brought additional charges in connection with the widespread bribery scheme.

In April, the government tacked on a money laundering conspiracy charge in addition to the fraud charges the parents already faced.

Loughlin, the former “Full House” star, was among the group hit with that additional charge.

More than two dozen people, including ringleader Singer, former “Desperate Housewives” star Felicity Huffman and former Willkie Farr & Gallagher LLP co-chair Gordon Caplan, have pled guilty since the case was first unveiled in March.

Huffman began serving a 14-day prison term last week.

Caplan is scheduled to report to prison on Nov. 6 and will spend a month behind bars.

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Thursday, 31st October 2019
Surfing executive sentenced to prison in college admissions scam
by Caroline Lipton

Federal prosecutors in Boston said Wednesday that surfing executive Jeffrey Bizzack has been sentenced to two months in prison for participating in the massive college admissions scheme.

Prosecutors said Bizzack, 59, paid $250,000 in 2017 to get his son into the University of Southern California (USC) as a volleyball recruit, even though he did not play volleyball.

Bizzack, a former executive at World Surf League, told the court that this has been a "huge wake-up call for me."

"It's a turning point in my life," Bizzack said.

"I will continue after this sentencing to pivot my life. I want it for my son, my wife, my community and my employees. I apologize and thank you for your time today."

Bizzack pleaded guilty in July to conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services mail fraud.

He was sentenced Wednesday to two months in prison, three years supervised release and 300 hours of community service per year.

He was also ordered to pay a $250,000 fine.

Authorities said Bizzack agreed with college admissions consultant Rick Singer to have his son admitted to USC as a volleyball recruit, although he didn't play the sport.

Former USC assistant women's soccer coach Laura Janke allegedly falsified an athletic profile for Bizzack's son that depicted him as a nationally ranked volleyball player, and included the photograph of another individual playing volleyball.

Janke has since pleaded guilty.

In October 2017, USC athletics administrator, Donna Heinel, secured approval from the school's athletic admissions subcommittee to admit Bizzack's son, prosecutors said.

In December 2017, Bizzack issued a $50,000 check to USC's "Galen Center," a restricted account that operated under Heinel's oversight.

Heinel has pleaded not guilty.

Prosecutors said USC mailed Bizzack's son a formal acceptance letter in March 2018.

Bizzack then mailed a $100,000 check to a sham charity run by Singer, Key Worldwide Foundation (KWF).

In April 2018, he sent a second check to KWF in the amount of $50,000 and had his company wire another $50,000 to KWF.

Bizzack is the 12th person to be sentenced in the scheme.

Actress Felicity Huffman has already completed her sentence.

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Thursday, 14th November 2019
Judge calls USC dad a 'thief,' gives longest prison sentence so far in college admissions scandal

by Joey Garrison

(BOSTON, Massachussetts) — Toby MacFarlane, a former real estate and title insurance executive from California, was sentenced to six months in prison Wednesday for paying $450,000 to get his daughter and son admitted into the University of Southern California as fake athletic recruits.

It marks the longest prison sentence so far handed down among 13 parents and one college coach in the nation's college admissions scandal.

U.S. District Judge Nathaniel Gorton stressed that MacFarlane participated in the nationwide admissions scheme led by college consultant Rick Singer "not once, but twice," taking seats at USC away from two deserving students.

He told MacFarlane his actions should be tolerated no more than a common thief's actions, "because that's what you are — a thief."

“Higher education in this country aspires to be a meritocracy. Those who work the hardest or make the best grades rightfully get accepted into the best schools," Gorton said.

"You had the audacity and the self-aggrandizing impudence to use your wealth to cheat and lie your way around the rules that apply to everyone else."

Gorton also sentenced MacFarlane to two years of supervised release, 200 hours of community service and a $150,000 fine.

MacFarlane, 56, of Del Mar, California, must report to prison by Jan. 2. He did not comment to reporters outside the courthouse as he exited before quickly stepping into a nearby Starbucks.
MacFarlane pleaded guilty to fraud conspiracy charges in June.

Addressing the court, MacFarlane, himself a USC graduate, apologized to his family, friends, former business partners and his alma mater, as well as "all of the students who applied and didn't get in."

“I am truly sorry. I love that school and it is heartbreaking to me that I brought a shadow on it," he said, adding he set a "terrible example" for his children.

"They didn’t deserve this. I’m working to make it up to them and regain their respect.”

Gorton opted to impose a harsher sentence than called for in sentencing guidelines, citing the “fraudulent, deceitful" nature of MacFarlane's conduct.

The judge's decision could be a preview of how he will approach other parents who go before him — including actress Lori Loughlin — who have pleaded not guilty. 

MacFarlane, a former senior executive at WFG National Title Insurance Company, made two separate payments of $200,000, one in 2014 and on in 2017, to the sham nonprofit operated by Singer.

Singer, in turn, facilitated his children's admissions into USC through bribes to one current and two former USC employees. MacFarlane also made a $50,000 payment to USC athletics.

The first transaction involved the admission of MacFarlane's daughter into USC as a fake soccer recruit.

He then paid Singer again to admit his son into USC posing as a basketball recruit.

"The defendant knew what he was doing was wrong. He knew it wasn't accepted at the school," Assistant U.S. Attorney Eric Rosen told the judge.

"So what does he do? He does it again with his son.”

Rosen said MacFarlane deserved prison because he was the first parent who paid into Singer's "side-door" recruitment scheme twice.

He asked the judge to "send a message" as a result.

MacFarlane's defense attorney, Ted Cassman, sought a lighter sentence, arguing his client was less culpable than other parents sentenced in the admissions scheme.

Unlike other parents, he said MacFarlane did not seek out Singer for cheating but for his consulting services.

He said MacFarlane already suffered "swift and severe" collateral consequences from his conduct.

He also pointed to MacFarlane's divorce, which separated his family and pressured him to buckle to Singer's offer.

“It was during this period that Mr. Singer offered an easy way out," Cassman said.

“And foolishly and tragically, Mr. MacFarlane took the easy way out.”

The toughest prison sentence previously ordered was five months for Agustin Huneeus, a Napa Valley, California winemaker.

Huneeus, who agreed to pay Singer $300,000 is the only defendant to take part in both the recruitment scheme and Singer's plot to cheat on college entrance exams.

U.S. District Judge Indira Talwani handed down the sentence of Huneeus and 11 other parents while Judge Douglas Woodlock sentenced one other parent.

Twenty-nine defendants, including 19 parents, have either pleaded guilty in court or agreed to plead guilty to charges in the historic admissions case.

Igor Dvorsiky, a former administrator for the ACT and SAT, pleaded guilty in court Wednesday to racketeering charges for accepting nearly $200,000 in bribes to opening a private school he operated in Los Angles for cheating in Singer's scheme.

He admitted to opening it on 11 occasions, involving 20 students, for cheating.

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Monday, 16th December 2019
A white principal allegedly banned black history classes. She says minority teachers waged a ‘racist campaign’ against her.
by Teo Armus

February meant it was Black History Month, so Mercedes Liriano taught her sixth-grade language arts classes about the Harlem Renaissance.

As she had done every year, the veteran Bronx teacher instructed her middle-school students — most of whom are black, like her — to research and present on famous artists and writers from that period.

But then, she received an abrupt order from the school’s principal, Patricia Catania.

The black history lessons had to stop, Liriano says she was told, in an exchange that sent shock waves around the community in 2018.

As students organized protests, some faculty accused Catania, who is white, of racial discrimination.

Yet, Catania insists that it’s those teachers — not her — who were motivated by racism.

In a lawsuit filed this summer against Liriano, two other teachers and their union, the administrator charged that she was the target of a “maligning, malevolent, and racist campaign” to replace her with a black principal at Bronx Intermediate School 224.

In 2013, while she was the principal of a high school on Manhattan’s Lower East Side, former teachers at that institution sent a letter to the city’s education officials, saying that the majority of the school’s black staff “does not have a voice and are targeted for excess,” according to the New York Daily News.

City officials later determined these claims were unfounded.

(Catania’s attorney, Anthony Gentile, denied that the investigation ever happened.)

In late 2016, she started as the principal at I.S. 224, where over 95 percent of students are black or Latino.

Almost from the start of her tenure, Liriano said, Catania clashed with staff.

The principal began issuing critical evaluations of longtime teachers of color, while praising less experienced white instructors who had struggled in the classroom.

While the two were initially friendly, the relationship soured as Liriano, who headed the local union chapter, began helping some of her colleagues file grievances about their reviews.

It was then, Liriano said, that she started hearing about what the principal was saying in private.

At one point, the teachers’ suit says, Catania allegedly said that all black math teachers were “incompetent” and only good at disciplining their students.

Gentile, who denies those comments were ever made, insists that Catania had simply been following a mandate to turn the “failing school” around and weed out the underperforming teachers.

The conflict between the two came to a head on February 7th, 2018, when the principal told Liriano to stop her classes on the Harlem Renaissance.

As Catania describes it, Liriano was teaching without a lesson plan, in violation of her contract, in addition to using a “historically incorrect and pedagogically outdated project list.”

Liriano had not fit the lessons into English class goals, the principal told her, or formulated plans for English language learners or students with disabilities.

When she was confronted, “Ms. Liriano immediately went on a loud tirade throughout the hallway and main office of the school, screaming words to the effect that I could not tell her she could not teach Black History,” Catania said in the sworn statement.

But Liriano tells a different story.

The teacher said she gave the principal her lesson plans for the entire unit — not just individual lessons — and was nonetheless censured.

It was important to teach students about their heritage, she said, as she had been doing for the past 14 years at the school.

Liriano carried on anyway, and when the principal spotted two sixth-graders with a poster of Lena Horne, the celebrated black singer, she confiscated the project.

(Gentile said the students had been sent by Liriano during class time to grab the posters, which contained loose, dangerous staples.)

News of that incident quickly got out, and Liriano and another instructor, math teacher Jacinth Scott, were quoted days later in New York media, on February 10th, 2018, calling Catania and her behavior


That week, students and other teachers and arrived at school wearing all black, in solidarity with Liriano.

Others circulated a petition defending the longtime language arts teacher, arguing she should be allowed to continue teaching black history.

They ended up on TV, carrying signs that said,

“Black Minds Matter.”

The Reverend Al Sharpton got pulled in and called the situation “a disgrace and an insult.”

Catania, for her part, was featured on the cover of the Daily News, above a jarring headline:

“Reading, Writing & Racism.”

By June 2018, six teachers of color and the assistant principal were so frustrated with the state of the school that they had all left their jobs at I.S. 224, Liriano told The Post.

Eventually, she and the others followed.

Things appeared to quiet down, as Catania was then demoted in June to a post at a different school while she was still under investigation from the New York City school system.

That same month, however, she filed a $22 million lawsuit against three black teachers and the union, accusing them of waging a campaign to portray her as a racist.

“There is literally not a racist thought in my head, nor a racist molecule in my body, nor have I ever made a racist comment, or acted in a racist manner in my life,” she said in a sworn deposition on September 29th.

In an interview with The Post, Gentile, her lawyer, went a step further, saying the teachers had discriminated against Catania by allegedly seeking to get her booted from her job.

“She’s been portrayed as the villain, but she’s really the victim here,” he told The Post.

“It was racism, pure and simple, [even though] some people may not see her as sympathetic as when this happens to a brown-skinned person.”

In a letter to a Bronx County Supreme Court judge on December 6th, Gentile said that the teachers and union had made false statements to the media and organized disruptive protests, in which the principal received death threats and was chased down the street.

Most notably, he said, a “group of thuggish goons” from the union, the United Federation of Teachers, had invaded her school, congregating at the main office and making threatening statements to Catania.

It was “as if this was the 1940′s and they were Longshoremen or Teamsters,” the letter said.

“One can well imagine how frightful and fearsome this all must have been to a fifty-year-old woman who is but 5′2."

Earlier this month, Liriano and two other staffers, plus two representatives from their union, responded by suing New York City schools and their former boss for $8 million, charging that Catania created a “racially hostile work environment,” in addition to retaliating and discriminating against the instructors.

“We were just emotionally distressed by the harassment, the retaliation, the unjust animosity she had towards us,” Liriano told The Post.

Jeanne Mirer, a lawyer for the teachers, was more blunt.

“This principal came in with this belief that black teachers were incompetent and set out try to prove it — to run them all out of the system,” Mirer told The Post.

“If that isn’t racism, I don’t know what is."

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