Founder/CEO of FinTech startup Bckers, Inc., Amos Winbush III and his wife, Tiffany Winbush, have filed a lawsuit against the New York City Department of Education (NYDOE) on behalf of their children. In the lawsuit, the Winbushes allege their 10-year-old daughter and 5-year-old son have endured abuse from classmates at Peck Slip School (Public School 343) located in Manhattan, New York. The alleged abuse includes death threats, racial slurs and being spat on.
According to the filing, administrators at the Peck Slip School repeatedly ignored the Winbushes’ requests to remedy these incidences of bullying and harassment that have left the Winbush children mentally and emotionally traumatized.
“Protecting the most vulnerable of us is the true sign that humanity possesses the legs of progress. When the nation fails to recognize that black boys’ and girls’ experiences are divinely woven into the tapestry of humanity and when we fail to honor that diversity, their innocent eyes, their tiny hands, their brave footsteps; we have failed at the most basic task of honoring ourselves. Racism, bigotry and indifference is wrong, it’s dangerous and it must have no place in our society,” Amos Winbush III, said.
The Board of Education of the City School District of the City of New York and New York City Community School District 2, as well as Peck Slip School’s principal, Maggie Siena, and assistant principal, Casey Corey, are all defendants named in the lawsuit. Hamilton Clarke, LLP, a New York City-based law firm, represents the Winbush family.
In an incident described in the filing, Peck Slip School’s principal and assistant principal pulled the Winbushes’ daughter out of her 5th-grade class to scold her for telling her father about the racism and harassment she had been experiencing at school. The principal told her that her experiences were “hard to believe” because they were different from the experiences of other students — who are predominately white.
“Closet racism can be more damaging than overt racism. For all the amazing opportunities and diversity that New York City offers, it still houses the most segregated school district in our country. Displaying a Black Lives Matter pin while constructing and enabling a system that excludes an entire group of people is more damaging than spewing racial epithets,” Lance A. Clarke, Esq., Managing Partner, Hamilton Clarke, LLP, said.
School administrators have retaliated against the Winbush family for speaking up, according to the lawsuit. After attorneys from Hamilton Clarke, LLP wrote to school administrators about the persistent problems at the school, a teacher allegedly told the Winbushes’ daughter’s class, “Don’t go home and tell your parents what happens in the classroom, because it paints the teachers in a bad light.”
“No child should have to experience what the Winbush children have experienced. No parent should have to go through what Tiffany and Amos Winbush have gone through. School officials should never tolerate racism and retaliation. The DOE’s response to the Winbushes’ serious complaints should never happen to another family,” Joshua S. Moskovitz, Esq., Partner, Hamilton Clarke, LLP said.
Phillip C. Hamilton, Esq., Managing Partner, Hamilton Clarke, LLP, links the racial educational inequalities that are overwhelmingly present in the Winbushes’ complaint to the mass exodus of Black people from New York City.
“Local officials need to understand that it is not just the cost of living that is driving many Black people out; it’s the racially segregated school system that affords less opportunity, and inflicts real harms, upon Black children that forces Black families to either flee the city or stand up and fight like the Winbushes are doing,” Hamilton said.
“Ultimately, we want accountability on every level within the New York City Department of Education, the Board of Education, District 2 and the school in which my children attend. We want systematic change that brings these dark, traumatic, life-altering situations into the light,” Tiffany Winbush, a digital marketing executive and the only Black woman to run for New York City Council in 2021 (District 1), said.
For more information about this filing, read the complaint here.
About the Legal Team
Lance A. Clarke, Esq., Managing Partner, is an experienced trial attorney, litigator, and negotiator. He has served as outside general counsel, advisor, and consultant to various CEO’s, executives and politicians for both corporate and regulatory proceedings, as well as investigative proceedings with the FBI, SEC and U.S. Secret Service.
Joshua S. Moskovitz, Esq., Partner, is in charge of the civil litigation and appellate practices, and has represented plaintiffs in landmark cases such as the NYPD “stop-and-frisk” litigation, and the civil cases brought by the Central Park Five and the family of Eric Garner.
Phillip C. Hamilton, Esq., Managing Partner, is a high-stakes trial attorney and litigator whose success includes multiple six-figure settlements in 2022 for clients subject to unlawful discrimination.