The Department of Education wants to move a March parent meeting with schools Chancellor Richard Carranza from Chinatown to Chelsea amid tensions with the city’s Asian community, The Post has learned.
The DOE began pressing Manhattan’s Community Education Council 2 for the change this week, claiming that the MS 131 Sun Yat Sen auditorium is too small.
CEC 2 vice president Edward Irizarry told the Post that the DOE was blowing a chance to mend rifts with Asian New Yorkers and noted that Carranza had held prior meetings at MS 131, which can seat 580, without incident.
“If the chancellor is interested in bridging the gap between himself and the Asian community as he has stated, holding the meeting in a school with a large Asian community would only help,” he said. “We have to in good faith start closing these divisions. I don’t understand why they would do this.”
The DOE countered that they only want to ensure adequate seating and that the request was unrelated to Carranza’s Asian agita.
The department noted that people had to use an overflow room at a chaotic Queens meeting in District 26 last month in an auditorium with a capacity of 400 seats.
But another CEC member source accused Carranza of trying to avoid a potentially hostile environment and unflattering optics.
“I find it troubling that the chancellor doesn’t want to go to Chinatown,” the member said. “Particularly when the venue is more than large enough and is in fact a venue he has relied on in the past for previous events.”
CEC 2 chose MS 131 in December to host their bi-annual community meeting with the chancellor.
The auditorium can accommodate nearly 800 thanks to an overflow room that can hold an additional 200 people, members said.
Carranza has previously appeared at the venue for two Panel for Education Policy meetings as well as a “Listening Tour” stop early in his tenure.
But sources said Acting Deputy Chancellor Adrienne Austin abruptly pushed for a location change during a Wednesday conference call with CEC members.
She suggested moving the March 10 meeting to the High School of Fashion Industries on West 24th street.
Austin said she expected between 800 to 1,000 spectators – an unusually large projection that would surpass attendance any recent community meetings with Carranza.
“I’ve never seen anything close to that,” Irizarry said.
He added that holding the meeting in Chinatown would provide a symbolic show of support for a community struggling with the coronavirus crisis in their country of origin.
“This is a time of great suffering for people in Asia and in China,” Irizarry said. “I think it’s important for him to show support to this community, especially now.”
Rancor between Carranza and the city’s Asian community sprouted from his support for school racial diversification measures that would slash their enrollment at some of the city’s top schools.
Asian activists have argued that the DOE and City Hall tried to consummate those plans with little outreach to them.
Accusing Carranza of chronic disrespect, a group of mostly Asian protesters have loudly called for his firing at community meetings.
For the first time, several Carranza backers attended a recent CEC meeting in Brooklyn and squared off against the group.
They denied that Carranza has an Asian aversion and argued that his policies sought equal treatment for all city kids.
Sources said the DOE has started sending out vans to hand out flyers about upcoming meetings and to encourage attendance.
Carranza has argued that opposition to his tenure is rooted in racism and discomfort with his “equity” agenda that seeks to integrate schools that are primarily Asian and white.
CEC 2 members said the board is still assessing Austin’s request.