The school district of a suburb of New York City is being sued by its library media specialist because she says it discriminated against her based on her age, ethnicity, and because she instituted programs it disagreed with.
Tracey Wong is a 50-year-old Asian American woman who was hired by the Blind Brook-Rye school district as a library media specialist in August 2017, according to the complaint. She claims the school district is predominantly white, that she was one of the oldest faculty members, and that “she was the only noticeably non-white faculty member.”
Wong claims that, during her interview, the superintendent asked how old her children were and she “concluded that the question was an attempt to determine her age.” She also claims that, after being hired, she was placed on a four-year probationary track instead of the standard three-year track. She believes this was done because of her age.
In April 2018 Wong learned that she would no longer be employed by the district and the principal told her that it was because she “did not fit in the school culture.” When she asked for letter of reference, she was told she would have to submit her written resignation first.
The protected activities Wong claims were objected to by the district included the receipt of two grants “because both grant proposals appeared to have been written for diverse populations, and Blind Brook is predominantly white.” Wong believed that “the district wanted to maintain its public profile as being predominantly white.”
The lawsuit also mentions an altercation between Wong and a student in which she asked him to leave the library, and accused him of being a racist in response to his own similar accusation.
“Ms. Wong explained to the district that she appropriately responded to the student’s racism allegations by telling him that he was a ‘…white male in a room full of other white males,'” the complaint states.
Wong also claims that a group of “predominantly white parents” used Facebook to complain about collaborative programs she had put together. She claims the allegations made by the parents were “completely false.”
Wong claims that the school district subjected her to “unlawful and intentional retaliation by terminating her employment prior to the expiration of her four years of probation on account of her protected activities as a non-white and Asian American woman in advocating for diversity and racial understanding. . . .” the complaint states.
Wong is represented by Ambrose Wotorson of New York City who brought the action in the Southern District of New York.