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Ajcommittee Moves on Fuentes Case

The American Jewish Committee announced today that it would formally join Mrs. Antoinette Di Mauro, a member of Community School Board No. 1, in her request that State Education Commissioner Ewald Nyquist review without delay the fitness of Luis Fuentes to serve as Superintendent of School District 1. Fuentes’ fitness and his appointment by the community school board, have been called into question because of anti-Semitic and other racial slurs he allegedly made while a principal in the former Ocean Hill-Brownsville school district in Brooklyn.

Daniel S. Shapiro, president of the NY chapter of the AJCommittee, said it would petition Nyquist for leave to join Mrs. Di Mauro in her request. Mrs. Di Mauro’s lawyer, Manhattan Assemblyman Antonio G. Olivieri, said yesterday that he would submit a request shortly to Nyquist to look into Fuentes’ fitness to hold a state certificate as school superintendent. Mrs. Di Mauro also charges that she was unlawfully excluded by her fellow school board members from the selection process that resulted in Fuentes’ appointment.

Robert D. Stone, counsel to the State Education Department, said the Commissioner would look into the matter if he is “presented with a request to annul Mr. Fuentes’ certificate.” Stone confirmed that “moral character was relevant to the continued possession” of a certificate.

Meanwhile, Victor J. Herwitz, the attorney representing three other Jewish organizations in the Fuentes case, told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency today that if Nyquist intends to hold a hearing they would ask to participate. The organizations the American Jewish Congress, the Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith and the Jewish Labor Committee-filed charges with city school Chancellor Harvey Scribner last Aug, accusing Fuentes of racist slurs and the community school board of “dereliction of duty” in appointing him superintendent.

Herwitz said the action Nyquist may take against Fuentes would not necessarily affect their complaint against the school board which demands his dismissal. The Jewish groups have been joined by Italian community groups in their complaints of alleged racist remarks by the Puerto Rican school official.

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