News

Assemblyman Tried to Block Minorities From Attending Riverdale School: Suit

(DNAINFO) Ben Fractenberg Amy Zimmer and Eddie Small | May 2, 2016 — Jeffrey Dinowitz said he didn’t want “outsiders” attending P.S. 24, according to a lawsuit.

State Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz tried to block minority students from enrolling in a popular public elementary school — saying that he didn’t want “outsiders” coming into the kindergarten in the tony area of Riverdale, according to a lawsuit filed by the school’s assistant principal on Monday.

The state legislator installed his chief of staff Randi Martos in P.S. 24, located on West 236th Street, as “part of a politically and racially motivated scheme to prevent minorities and lower-income children from attending P.S. 24 and other schools in the area,” school administrator Manuele Verdi claims in the suit.

Martos was present during the enrollment process at P.S. 24 on at least six occasions in March and April of this year — demanding more than the required proof of residency and violating the federal privacy rights of at least 100 students by having unauthorized access to their personal files, the assistant principal claimed.

Verdi also claimed that Dinowitz issued thinly veiled racial threats, saying he could tell if children were not from Riverdale just by looking at them and “by the way they walk, talk, and wear their pants.”

Martos improperly intervened in the registration process, looking over students’ medical and academic records and checking proofs of address, insisting parents produce three pieces of identification — which exceeds the two required under city regulations and runs afoul of the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act, a federal law to ensure immediate enrollment and educational stability for homeless students, the lawsuit stated.

In addition, it violates students’ protection under HIPAA and Family Education Rights and Privacy Act laws for non-school personnel to have access to their records.

Dinowitz told DNAinfo New York on Monday that Martos did play a role in student registration but stressed that she was invited to do so by the school. He also insisted that it was helpful for the school.

“Her role there was brief and was more as a helper, because they need all the help they can get, apparently,” Dinowitz said.

Source: Assemblyman Tried to Block Minorities From Attending Riverdale School: Suit – Riverdale – DNAinfo New York