NEW YORK (Apr. 8)
Three Jewish organizations which have been seeking the ouster of Luis Fuentes as a city school district superintendent on charges of anti-Semitic and other forms of bigotry denounced yesterday a report clearing Fuentes of the charges. The three agencies–the American Jewish Congress, the Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith and the Jewish Labor Committee–said they intended to continue their fight and would confer over the weekend on “our next steps.”
The report was made by Vincent Broderick, a former New York City Police Commissioner, now an attorney, who was named hearing officer by School Chancellor Harvey Scribner several months ago. Broderick was named to examine the charges that Fuentes was anti-Semitic and not fit to serve as superintendent of School District No. 1 on Manhattan’s Lower East Side.
The District 1 board, which was charged by the three Jewish agencies with dereliction of duty in hiring Fuentes, was cleared of those charges in the Broderick report. The three agencies accused Broderick of inconsistency, declaring that while the Broderick report “asserts that Fuentes is ‘at the present time, neither a bigot nor a racist,’ the report also recommends that the school board instruct Fuentes to refrain, in the future, from comments, public or private, of a slurring nature toward, or about, any racial, ethnic or religious groups, and from comments which have even the appearance of such slurring nature.”
SAY BIGOTRY CHARGES NOT DISPROVED
The three Jewish agencies, in their joint statement, said that the Broderick report “did not dispute the fact that Fuentes had made bigoted statements; its ruling was based on the examiner’s interpretation of a technicality. Nowhere in the course of the hearing were our charges relating to Fuentes’ bigotry disproved.”
The statement also said “we are appalled by the report’s conclusion that the Chancellor cannot take disciplinary action against a community superintendent. The report’s ruling that the final disposition of the matter rests with the local school board puts us right back on the merry-go-round the Chancellor’s office set up last summer when the Fuentes appointment was announced.” The statement said “it should be obvious” that a board that named a Fuentes “is unfit to pass judgement on its own conduct.” The statement also said “the continuing ethnic controversy” in District I would “never be resolved by permitting anti-Semitism and racism to be ignored or swept under the rug.”
Broderick held, in effect, that clearly prejudiced statements made several years ago by Fuentes were “time-barred by the three-year provisions of Education Law” and that a speech by Fuentes at the Board of Education on May 7, 1970, in which he said he was being dismissed because he was “uncircumcised.” was not anti-Semitic because Fuentes asserted he had not meant it to be.