Scores of parents are reportedly seeking to oust a New York City principal over a laundry list of controversial actions, including making racist remarks and enforcing draconian policies.
Debra Mastriano, who heads K-5 Public School (P.S.) 166 on the Upper West Side, has been accused of making anti-Asian comments in a letter signed and sent to District Superintendent Kamar Samuels by 64 parents, according to the New York Post. The letter alleged that Mastriano complained that the school was becoming “too Asian” and also stated “I hate Asian people.”
It was not immediately clear when the principal made such remarks. In addition to making the anti-Asian comments, she is also accused of making inflammatory assumptions about Black and Hispanic students, insinuating that they must all be living in a nearby building that “breeds dysfunction.”
Parents and teachers reportedly issued a vote of no confidence against Mastriano on Dec. 1. More than 73 current and former parents and 28 teachers voted against the principal; 18 staffers voted to abstain, and none voted to support her, the New York Post noted.
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The letter’s allegations, however, appear to center on Mastriano’s rigid school rules and micromanagement practices. These include taking sweet treats away from students, policing art supplies and banning pencils to eliminate students’ ability to erase mistakes.
In one incident, Mastriano allegedly barred a kindergartener from eating a piece of birthday cake because he was “overweight.” At least two other students — one with a donut and the other with a candy bar — allegedly suffered the same fate.
“It was just so Grinch-like,” one teacher told the New York Post of Mastriano, who has also been accused of tearing down bulletin boards by faculty members.
While test scores have reportedly improved since Mastriano took office in 2012, morale has significantly dropped, with around 100 teachers and staffers leaving. Only 14 percent of teachers said they trusted Mastriano in the latest school survey.
P.S. 166, also known as the Richard Rodgers School of Arts & Technology, suffered a COVID-19 outbreak last year, with 22 students and three staff members contracting the virus. No teachers tested positive, according to Spectrum News NY1.
Samuels is reportedly investigating the allegations. As of this writing, it is understood that Mastriano remains the school’s principal.