A group of Republican state lawmakers joined in sending a letter to the Scottsdale Unified School District (SUSD) Governing Board calling for the resignation of Superintendent Scott Menzel after racist comments about white people he made in 2019 were unearthed by the media.
“The racist words and sentiments Menzel publicly expressed have no place in Scottsdale schools. Superintendent Menzel was hired and trusted to foster a culture of mutual respect among students, parents, and teachers. However, his racist words prove that he is incapable of doing that job,” according to the legislators.
State Reps. @JosephChaplik and @alex4arizona, & Sen. @JohnKavanagh_AZ Issue Open Letter to @ScottsdaleUSD Governing Board Condemning Superintendent Scott Menzel for Hateful Comments.
Click to read 📢 https://t.co/yFA7Ayz2zV@AZHouseGOP #AZLeg pic.twitter.com/fujzSViGDt
— Arizona House Republicans (@AZHouseGOP) February 1, 2023
State Representative Joseph Chaplik (R-Scottsdale), State Representative Alexander Kolodin (R-Scottsdale), and State Senator John Kavanaugh (R-Fountain Hills) are behind the letter. All three Republican represent Legislative District 3 in Scottsdale.
The comments in question first came to light in a report from Fox News. According to the outlet, Menzel was honored by the Obama administration as a “champion of change” back in 2013. He previously held a superintendent position in Michigan and participated in an interview discussing how his school district was implementing an Equity, Inclusion, and Social Justice (EISJ) mission. During the interview, he stated that the racial identity of white people is “problematic.”
“There’s a misperception that educational equity is really only for ethnically and racially diverse districts. But white people have racial identity as well, and in fact problematic racial identity that we typically avoid,” Menzel said.
Furthermore, he also spoke on privilege and a system of racial suppression that white people should feel “uncomfortable” about.
“White people,” Menzel said, “need to feel comfortable, and quite frankly we shouldn’t feel comfortable, we should feel really, really uncomfortable, because we perpetuate a system by ignoring the realities in front of us, and living in a mythological reality.”
He said that the ideals of meritocracy are a lie, and as someone who is advantaged in this country, Menzel said he has the “burden and obligation” to dismantle the system for those who do not benefit from it.
It's time for Dr. Menzel to leave. SUSD citizens must peacefully show their support. AZWOA has many tweets about @ScottsdaleUSD. Why? Because of an endless stream of inappropriate, questionable, disturbing matters that concerned citizens have uncovered. Here are some of our posts https://t.co/nSHEd99ivX pic.twitter.com/rM6DuX43EL
— Arizona Women of Action (@azwomenofaction) February 1, 2023
In their letter, the Legislators accused Menzel of judging others by the color of their skin, which they said is not an appropriate view for a school leader to hold in Arizona.
“Scottsdale needs calm leadership that can steady the ship. It is clear, however, that Superintendent Menzel cannot be that leader. Menzel’s racist views not only compromise his ability to lead, but he has made himself the center of a controversial spotlight that will only distract from learning,” the legislators wrote.
Ultimately, Chaplik, Kolodin, and Kavanaugh demanded that Menzel resign. Moreover, they stated his resignation would be the “only way to bring a quick resolution” to this controversy. Should he not leave himself, they asked the SUSD board to terminate his position.
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Neil Jones is a reporter for The Arizona Sun Times and The Star News Network. Follow Neil on Twitter. Email tips to [email protected].
Photo “Scott Menzel” by Scottsdale Unified School District.