Ritzy NYC Prep School Erupts Into Legal Spat Over Antisemitism Task Force

Photo Illustration by Luis G. Rendon/The Daily Beast/Collegiate School
Photo Illustration by Luis G. Rendon/The Daily Beast/Collegiate School

One of New York City’s most prestigious and pricey private K-12 schools, which counts President John F. Kennedy’s son and actor David Duchovny as alumni, has erupted into a nasty legal spat over an antisemitism task force that its top administrator allegedly called a “joke” and “useless.”

In a lawsuit filed in New York City this week, and first obtained by The Daily Beast, the head of the task force, Anna Carello, accused the school’s top administrator, David Lourie, of making a slew of derogatory comments about her and the task force, which was set up to weed out antisemitism and Islamophobia on campus after the Oct. 7 attack by Hamas in Israel.

Carello claimed in the lawsuit that Lourie said the task force was “nothing more than a ‘power play by Jewish families’ and New York City Rabbis to have him ousted as head of school.”

Part of Carello’s job as the head of the task force was to meet with the parents of Jewish students, the lawsuit said, something Lourie “could not be bothered with handling.”

Carello, the associate head of school for academics, alleged that her job as leader of the task force, and the fact that she was a woman, led Lourie to treat her differently than other school administrators.

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The Collegiate School, an all-boys school founded in 1628 that costs a whopping $63,400 per academic year, has a storied past as the school of choice for New York royalty. Both JFK’s son and grandson attended, as did The New York Times publisher A. G. Sulzberger. It also has a considerable Jewish enrollment.

Carello’s lawsuit alleged that things became tense on campus in the wake of Hamas’ attack, with her mentioning in the suit that a middle school teacher was put on leave after “he showed a biased video about the Israel-Hamas war in his classroom.”

Carello alleged that she was kept in the dark about the incident and was the last administrator to know about the school’s response to the teacher’s actions—despite it being her very job to oversee the educators and weigh in on important personnel decisions.

Concerns about antisemitism culminated in an internal report that was published this month, which conceded some faculty members blamed “wealthy and influential” Jewish parents for tensions at the school since Oct. 7, the New York Post reported Saturday.

That report totaled nine pages, according to the Post, which was a far cry from the 400-plus-page report published in 2020 that discussed how institutional racism has affected the school specifically and American society generally over the centuries.

Still, the report identified a pair of allegedly antisemitic incidents on campus. Parents told the Post that one of the incidents involved the English teacher Dwayne Alexis, who was axed in November after he showed videos in class about the war in Gaza and accused Israel of genocide.

Carello’s lawsuit did not mention Alexis by name, but alluded to the incident. It claimed that Carello was ordered to cover for the fired teacher through the end of the school year, teaching students each day while juggling her role as the school’s No. 2 administrator on paper and its lead on the antisemitism task force.

Carello alleged she was intentionally kept out of the loop on a number of task force issues that other male colleagues—in lesser positions than her—were not. She claimed this was “punishment” for her working with Jewish families, as she was asked to do, because Lourie allegedly said those meetings were “undermining” his position. She alleged those meetings also led to “two separate male colleagues chastising her for the work she was doing” with no repercussions for them.

In addition, Carello claimed that Lourie made disparaging comments about female teachers on campus and dismissed complaints from female subordinates who told him he was biased in favor of male colleagues. Among the alleged comments Carello characterized as misogynistic was his response to her telling him that a teacher set to return from maternity leave had inquired about a lactation room.

“Let’s make her life miserable when she returns,” Lourie responded, according to the lawsuit.

Lourie did not respond to an email seeking comment on the allegations.

Carello claimed that her position at the school became “untenable” during the 2024 spring semester, but she chose to continue teaching the middle school students whose teacher was fired so their education wouldn’t suffer.

As Lourie’s rift with Carello became clearer, the lawsuit alleged that Lourie described her as a “personnel issue” in March. Word quickly got back to Carello about this comment, she claimed, so she set up a meeting with her boss to confront him days later.

After that meeting, Carello alleged that Lourie avoided her on campus by, among other things, turning the other way when they passed each other in hallways and canceling six meetings they would have been in together.

Carello’s lawsuit claimed that her rift with Lourie is personal and not due to any professional shortcomings on her end. The suit said her initial performance at the school was praised in 2021 and she was given a retention bonus in 2022 that would up her pay through the 2025-26 school year. More recently, the lawsuit claimed that, due to her task force work, a parent said she “single-handedly saved the Jewish community this year.”

Carello claimed she “has suffered considerable damages” as the result of Lourie. She’s seeking a payout from a jury trial that will cover “lost wages and benefits, damages to her professional reputation and future opportunities in her profession” and “damages to compensate her for past and future emotional distress.”

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