Wantagh parents said they are outraged over a video that has surfaced of an East Meadow School District administrator discussing pushing a controversial agenda in schools, and they demanded assurances that the Wantagh school board is transparent in its hiring practices.
The undercover video that was released shows David Casamento, East Meadow School District’s assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction, discussing diversity, equity and inclusion, or DEI, being taught covertly in Nassau County public schools.
DEI aims to include and teach about all groups disadvantaged by race, ethnicity, disability, gender and gender identity, socioeconomic status, or other factors.
The video was released by Project Veritas, a nonprofit journalism enterprise that, according to its website, “investigates and exposes corruption, dishonesty, self-dealing, waste, fraud, and other misconduct in both public and private institutions to achieve a more ethical and transparent society.”
In the video, Casamento is seen talking about how certain topics need to be taught without parents’ knowledge due to the possibility of a parent backlash.
“Here’s the thing with DEI work,” Casamento said in the video. “If you push too hard doing the work and you get this pushback, it will be decades before you can do the work again. So, it needs to be incremental.”
Another clip shows him saying that parents “honestly believe that systemic racism does not exist. They don’t understand why we have to talk about LGBTQ issues or have books that have LGBTQ themes in them.”
Another part of the video that angered parents was Casamento talking about not hiring conservative-leaning candidates. He said a rubric for hiring was specifically designed “in light of DEI.”
Considering the video, parents recently questioned the Wantagh school board and superintendent about whether the district has an association with East Meadow’s assistant superintendent.
“Suggesting utilizing tenured teachers who are supposed to be our most trusted educators to quietly disrupt classrooms and push aggressive and dangerous DEI agendas because they can’t be fired is unconscionable,” Wantagh parent Marilynne Rich said during the recent Wantagh school board meeting. “Every single school district needs to operate with transparency and with parental knowledge and consent.”
“Why is this even a topic of conversation at any of the school-related meetings?” Jean Dibiasi said. “For administrators and teachers to allegedly teach quietly, covertly or insidiously, to indoctrinate the students into ideology — if there is no harm in these teachings, why is it done covertly?”
John McNamara, superintendent of the Wantagh School District, addressed parents’ concerns, stating that Casamento is not associated with the Wantagh district in any way and offered transparency regarding the district’s hiring process.
“His views represent his commentary. We do not support those in terms of hiring practices or other things that he commented on,” McNamara said.
“We have hiring practices here where we incorporate the community, and we have parents (who are) part of that process and staff (who are) part of that process,” he added. “We don’t work covertly. We work with our staff. We work with our community to develop any new curriculum or any new initiatives.”
According to reports, the East Meadow School Board recently announced that Casamento has been “administratively reassigned” and “will not be in any district buildings.”