Superintendent Easy charges Wayland and School Committee members with discrimination


Credit: Katya Luzarraga

Superintendent Omar Easy files a racial discrimination charge on Feb. 10, against the Wayland School Committee, Wayland Public Schools, Town of Wayland, School Committee Chair Chris Ryan and School Committee Vice Chair Ellen Greico.

Quotes in this article come from the official charge document.

Superintendent Omar Easy filed a racial discrimination charge on Feb. 10, against the Wayland School Committee, Wayland Public Schools, Town of Wayland, School Committee Chair Chris Ryan and School Committee Vice Chair Ellen Greico. Easy filed this charge with the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination.

“Despite my objective accomplishments as Superintendent, members of the School Committee—chiefly Chair Ryan and Vice Chair Grieco—have subjected me to unlawful discrimination based upon my race, and retaliation for opposing unlawful discrimination,” Easy said.

Easy alleges racial harassment, retaliation and threats by the organizations and individuals he is suing. Easy alleges that the School Committee, particularly Chair Ryan and Vice Chair Grieco, have created a hostile work environment and utilized racial biases against him.

“The School Committee, and Chair Ryan and Vice Chair in particular, have fanned the flames of an unlawfully hostile work environment, including by undermining my authority with subordinates, baselessly questioning my motives—furthering the racist trope that Black males are somehow suspicious and/or aggressive, and allowed thinly veiled—and at times flagrant—racism against me to persist,” Easy said.

Easy recounts that he experienced discrimination, including that Vice Chair Ellen Greico discriminated against him and Black candidates during the superintendent hiring process.

“She even asked the consultants organizing Wayland’s search for a Superintendent to find additional white candidates after two of the three finalists were Black,” Easy said.

Easy also claims that his repeated efforts to ameliorate racism in Wayland were refused by the School Committee, including his suggestion to place cameras in the halls of the middle school after racist graffiti was found inside the school.

“I was accused of ‘destroying Wayland’s culture’ and ‘bringing Everett culture to Wayland’—a thinly veiled racist reference to my majority-minority hometown and prior employer,” Easy said.

He further states that former Special Education Director Richard Whitehead and Happy Hollow Principal Tricia O’Reilly refused to participate in his programming at a leadership retreat. Last year, Easy dismissed Richard Whitehead from his post with little explanation. O’Reilly announced her departure from Wayland to become a principal in another school district next year earlier this week.

“Chair Ryan and Vice Chair Grieco tacitly condoned this insubordination by sitting silently and failing to support me,” Easy said.

Easy alleges that in October 2021, Whitehead discriminated against the only Black administrator in Wayland, and that the School Committee resisted Easy’s efforts to address these allegations.

“School Committee’s resistance to my remedial efforts was so pervasive, that I had to retain separate legal counsel on behalf of the School District—who agreed my efforts were warranted and appropriate—to effectuate the termination of Mr. Whitehead’s employment,” Easy said.

During and prior to the official investigation into his conduct, Easy alleges that Ryan and Greico solicited complaints from the Wayland Teachers Association. He claims that these complaints contained racial microaggressions and falsehoods about his job performance.

“Chair Ryan and Vice Chair Grieco then demeaned, humiliated, and further undermined my authority by empowering WTA members to criticize my decision making—including actions I had taken to address discrimination in the workplace—and baselessly attack my motives in a group setting,” Easy said.

According to Easy’s filing Ryan and Greico discriminated against candidates for positions in the district, based on the fact that their credentials were obtained in Everett, Easy’s former employer.

“Chair Ryan attacked me and suggested I would face consequences for [raising concerns], claiming that my comments were ‘[expletive]’ and by having raised the issue I did myself a ‘significant disservice,'” Easy said.

In Oct. 2022, Easy claims that he moved to terminate a white teacher at Wayland High School, whom he allegedly had evidence to believe had discriminated against a Black colleague. At an Administrative Council meeting two days later, senior administrators reportedly complained that Easy had intimidated participants. The School Committee responded with a public notice that they would seek disciplinary action towards him.

“Wayland—for the third time in my eighteen months of employment—issued public notice that discipline would be considered against me,” Easy said. “Upon information and belief, Wayland never publicly issued such notice about one of my white predecessors.”

Easy attached five supplemental documents as evidence for his filing.

A) A picture of the racist graffiti found at the high school on Dec. 21, 2022
B) A letter written to Easy by a Wayland employee that called him “a thug and a destroyer,” sent on Aug. 29, 2022
C) An email from Easy to the School Committee notifying them of the said racist graffiti on Dec. 21.
D) An email from Chris Ryan notifying Easy that he would be put on paid administrative leave on Feb. 8.
E) A response to the previous email from Easy, in which he raises concerns about why he is being removed from his position on Feb. 9.

On Nov. 10, the School Committee voted to keep Easy in his role during an investigation looking into his conduct during an Oct. 13 administrative council meeting. According to Easy’s statement, the investigation found him to be innocent of misconduct.

“I learned on or about January 19, 2023, that the School Committee was informed that there was no credible evidence that I had engaged in misconduct. Yet, rather than publicize this fact and support me in my role as Superintendent, the School Committee has chosen to keep it secret and allow the cloud of impropriety over me to remain—a cloud which last night’s action [putting Easy on paid administrative leave] will only exacerbate.”

Currently, the committee is yet to release information as to why Easy was suspended.

“As of the time I am filing this Charge of Discrimination, the School Committee has still failed to provide me any basis for its actions,” Easy said. “As a result of Respondents’ discriminatory, retaliatory, and other unlawful actions, I have suffered, and continue to suffer, significant harm, including emotional distress.”

School Committee did not immediately respond to WSPN for a comment, but they did release a short statement on WaylandeNews. Although School Committee is aware of Easy’s complaint, they are unable to comment as it is currently a legal matter.

“Wayland Public Schools seeks to foster a welcoming, inclusive, anti-racist environment; our actions have and will continue to demonstrate a commitment to those principles,” School Committee’s statement said. “We are asking the members of our school community for their patience during this time.”

This is a developing story that is subject to updates.