An Arizona superintendent’s “racist” comments, including the statement that white people are “problematic,” have led state lawmakers to call for his resignation.
Sen. John Kavanagh, R-District 23, Rep. Joseph Chaplik, R-District 23, and Rep. Alexander Kolodin, R-District 3, sent an open letter to the Scottsdale Unified School District (SUSD) governing board on Feb. 1, calling for Superintendent Scott Menzel to be removed from the board and relieved of his duties immediately.
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
The letter comes just after a 2019 interview was uncovered by Fox News Digital, showing Menzel talking about implementing an Equity, Inclusion, and Social Justice initiative in Michigan, where he used to work.
Menzel claimed the ideals of meritocracy are a lie, being white is “problematic,” and white people should feel “really, really uncomfortable.”
“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 in the interview.
“White people need to feel comfortable,” he added, “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.”
Menzel also claimed because he is “advantaged,” he has the “burden and obligation” to dismantle the system on behalf of those who don’t benefit from it.
According to letter calling for his resignation, Menzel was hired in Arizona to foster a culture of mutual respect between parents, students, and teachers, but his “racist words prove he is incapable of doing that job.”
Another section of the letter reads:
“Martin Luther King Jr. said, ‘I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.’ These are values Scottsdale families want our city to live by. Menzel, however, chose to do the exact opposite and judge students, parents, and teachers by the color of their skin. This is unacceptable. And it is problematic that Menzel is still in this position leading a large school district.”
Menzel told the Scottsdale Progress that he was “surprised” the interview made headlines. “The interview from 2019 that served as the basis of their report wasn’t new and it wasn’t ‘news.’” He also denied ever saying that white people are problematic.
While the comments occurred during Menzel’s 9-year tenure in Michigan, they “remain in line with his current beliefs, based on local reporting on his performance in the district over the last two years,” the AZ Free News reports.
“Menzel resigning is the only way to bring a quick resolution to this controversy. And if Menzel does not have the decency to resign, we are calling on the SUSD board to terminate his employment with cause for the district,” wrote the lawmakers.
“The tone of a school is set by its leadership and Superintendent Menzel cannot lead a district when he thinks white people and meritocracy are problems. His race views are insulting and divisive and his disdain for merit will poison young minds,” Kavanagh told the Arizona Daily Independent.