Tell AMS: Administrator accused of racial bias needs to resign immediately

Tell AMS: Administrator accused of racial bias needs to resign immediately

August 7, 2019
Petition to
Executive Director Munir Shivji
Signatures: 6,891Next Goal: 7,500
Support now

Why this petition matters

Started by Megan Torres

We are calling for the immediate resignation of the Executive Director Jamie Gottesman and the Director of Student Services at Columbus Montessori Education Center. Both myself and another African American parent repeatedly complained to AMS and the Columbus Montessori School Board about the treatment of our children, only to have our concerns dismissed.

My six year old son was bullied which included being punched in the stomach and genitals, stabbed with a pencil twice and called names. In her emails to me, the  Executive Director denied that any of those incidents “rose to the level of bullying.”  Additionally I attempted to explain the history of racial microaggressions and stereotypes in an email after I was followed down the hallway by the Director of Student Services who called me "angry" and "mean" while I was visiting my son. My enrollment contract was terminated the same day. I had to tell my son three days before Christmas that he was not allowed to go back to the only school he's ever known. He was unable to finish the school year despite my pleas to administration and the Board.  As a result of the abrupt midyear termination, we lost the Ohio Ed Choice grant, forever. This grant is awarded to families who are assigned to a failing public school and allows children to attend private school using a voucher. It is worth more than $50,000 over the span of grades K-12.

I spoke out via social media and subsequently a few months later another African American parent, Janelle, came forward about her experience.  Her concerns include arriving to the school to find her four-year-old daughter locked inside a small, dark room with Jamie Gottesman the current Executive Director. While in the room, the Executive Director reportedly stated, “I can’t wait to you go to a different school.” In a follow up meeting a few days later, the Executive Director continued to justify her decision and then inferred that the child’s behavior was related to the mother’s marital status, stating that she reminded her of another single Black mother.

Research shows that the adultification and mistreatment of Black girls is an issue that begins in preschool. This horrific experience highlights that.

The text in the photo above is the response Janelle received from former CMEC Board Chair Adam Fazio after sharing her concerns about her daughter being removed from her classroom and locked in a room with the Executive Director.

Columbus Montessori Education Center is a member of the American Montessori Society. AMS's recent response to public criticisms of the school is concerning and woefully inadequate given our experiences. In their statement AMS says "we require our member schools to agree to self-comply with our Code of Ethics. In our role, we provide schools with resources, professional development, and support to help them implement high quality Montessori practices. We do not own or operate our member schools, and thus cannot make local decisions regarding their budgeting, staffing, and other operations. When challenges arise, we offer advice and leadership to schools to help them improve practices and serve their students."

AMS goes on to present OUR initial demands as CMEC's original ideas for new initiatives to promote racial justice. Of note, implicit racial bias training was presented as an opportunity for development soon after my son was kicked out. CMEC turned it down and AMS refused to partner with Montessorians for Social justice, a cohort of BIPOC Montessorians with experience teaching about implicit bias. CMEC also refused to engage in restorative justice sessions with our family. This was over a year ago.

CMEC recently acknowledged receipt of our demands and requested that any further communication be directed toward their attorney, a very expensive attorney that specializes in defending institutions and corporations accused of discrimination and bias. This ends now.

Email. Call. Sign the petition. Let AMS and CMEC know we are not going away until they do the right thing. They can turn this around and make a school that is progressive, antiracist and takes bullying seriously. There can be no accountability or change without an official apology and acknowledgement to the victim that you were wrong.

Join us in asking the American Montessori Society to create specific guidelines for their member schools that are measurable, and not simply "self-imposed". 

Join us in calling for the immediate resignation of CMEC's Executive Director, Director of Student Services and RELEASE Janelle from her tuition contract. 

Say it loudly and say it clearly. We support Black children and families. 

#weseecmec #whitesupremacybelike


Support now
Signatures: 6,891Next Goal: 7,500
Support now
to help others easily find and sign the petition.

Decision Makers

  • Munir ShivjiExecutive Director