By Corinne Murdock |
Republican state legislators representing Scottsdale condemned a local superintendent for racist remarks that recently made national headlines. Scott Menzel, the Scottsdale Unified School District (SUSD) superintendent, called the white race “problematic.”
Republicans representing District 3 — State Reps. Joseph Chaplik and Alex Kolodin, along with State Sen. John Kavanagh — urged Menzel to issue an apology and resign.
“The racist words and sentiments Menzel publicly expressed have no place in Scottsdale schools,” stated the trio. “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 three legislators also asked the SUSD Governing Board to remove Menzel. They noted that SUSD has faced mounting criticism in recent years over its incorporation of various progressive ideologies, such as on gender and race.
Menzel issued the remarks in a 2019 interview while working as a superintendent in Michigan. He said that white people, including children, needed to feel uncomfortable about themselves due to their race. Menzel further claimed that meritocracy was a myth.
“[W]hite people have racial identity as well, and in fact problematic racial identity that we typically avoid,” said Menzel. “[White people] should feel really, really uncomfortable, because we perpetuate a system by ignoring the realities in front of us, and living in a mythological reality.”
Menzel went on to celebrate public chaos as an opportunity for social reform.
“[White supremacy is] in the very fabric of the way this country was established, and we’ve never righted the wrongs of the genocide of the indigenous population, and the enslavement of a population from Africa on which the wealth of this country was built,” said Menzel.
At the time of the 2019 interview, Menzel had received numerous awards, honors, and recognitions for his leadership, and was a frequent featured panelist and guest speaker for local and state events. During the Obama administration, the White House named Menzel a YMCA Champion of Change in 2013. The next year, the Michigan Department of Education named Menzel to their advisory council on early childhood education.
SUSD hasn’t addressed this latest controversy from Menzel.
Under Menzel’s leadership the divide between parents and the district has only grown. Last year, the district adopted a controversial policy in which they posted the names of individuals submitting records requests, yet they would redact staff members’ names in response to those requests.
Menzel has also defended staff members that discussed gender ideology with kindergarten and elementary students without parental knowledge. He claimed those parents opposed to these discussions were in violation of Civil Rights law, insisting that the staff member in question was attacked because of her identity. Menzel further informed parents that the district wouldn’t punish employees over such behavior.
“To target an individual publicly for their personal identity — in this case the individual against whom this complaint was filed does not identify as either male or female — is overt discrimination and inconsistent with state and federal law as well as school district policy,” said Menzel.
In a separate incident in 2021, Menzel admonished parents and community members opposed to clubs focusing on children’s gender and sexuality. Menzel called them bullies.
Last April, SUSD’s social justice professionals promoted a drag queen storytime.
As the Arizona Daily Independent reported recently, the district falsely denied the existence of an official transgender support plan for nearly a year. The support plan, labeled “Confidential” by the district, noted that caregivers should be included in the completion of the document — not “must.” The district also considered ways to implement a gender support plan if the student’s parents or guardians weren’t supportive of such a plan.
In a 2015 equity panel hosted by Menzel’s former employer, Menzel proposed a “cradle to career education continuum” that resembled the controversial “cradle to grave” approach proposed by former President Barack Obama for lifelong government involvement.
The district only went so far as to remove the former board president, Jann-Michael Greenburg, from presidency after the 2021 discovery of his involvement in a dossier on parents and alleged political enemies within the district. Court cases concerning this dossier are ongoing.