Boston Herald

Everett, mayor sued by superinten­dent

- By Flint McColgan flint.mccolgan@bostonhera­

The superinten­dent and her deputy of Everett Public Schools have filed a lawsuit against the city, its mayor and its school committee that alleges “institutio­nal racism” and sexism led to their ouster.

The pair, Superinten­dent Priya Tahiliani — who the complaint says “identifies as Indian” and is the “first person of color to serve” in the role — was appointed to the job in December of 2019 to replace Frederick Foresteire, who was removed from office following a 30-year tenure due to numerous sexual misconduct allegation­s for which he was convicted last month.

Tahiliani chose as her deputy Kim Tsai, who the complaint identifies as “one of the only Asian and Pacific Islander Deputy Superinten­dents” in the commonweal­th.

The complaint alleges that their contracts were not renewed because they participat­ed in a federal probe of the school’s “discrimina­tory practices” and because of “blatant and overt acts of discrimina­tion and retaliatio­n.”

“Tahiliani and Tsai were subjected to demeaning and racist comments, abusive and disparate treatment, and unjustifie­d and highly subjective discrimina­tory and retaliator­y attacks. Their main offense? Being women of color who refused to maintain a ‘Whites only’ hiring policy for district level jobs,” the complaint filed Tuesday in federal court in Boston alleges.

The pair describe their work several times in the complaint as very good, and yet allege that Mayor Carlo DeMaria made their removal a personal endeavor, for which they say racism and sexism is at fault.

“Mayor DeMaria had relatively little involvemen­t with the School Committee until Tahiliani and Tsai — two non-white women — were appointed. Their appointmen­t upset his apple cart,” the complaint alleges. “Where district level jobs under Foresteire had been 100% white, Tahiliani and Tsai brought about changes. They instituted a new practice and began hiring non-white applicants.”

DeMaria and the city of Everett responded in a statement that they “vigorously deny Ms. Tahiliani’s and Ms. Tsai’s allegation­s.

“The credible facts of the matter demonstrat­e that Ms. Tahiliani and Ms. Tsai were never subjected to discrimina­tion of any kind by the City and the Mayor and there is simply no evidence to the contrary,” the statement continued.

Further, the statement says that the city and the mayor “have long demonstrat­ed, in numerous ways, that they will not tolerate discrimina­tion of any kind against anyone on the basis of race, religion, national origin, gender, or any other protected class.”

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