David Peters addresses New Rochelle Board of Education on December 4, 2018
NEW ROCHELLE, NY — David Peters portrays himself as the volunteer founder of a local civic group. In reality he is seeking to augment his New York State pension of less than $80,000 a year by selling racism like it is a household cleaning product or breakfast cereal.
On his Encore.org web page, Peters writes;
“For 30 years, I worked in child abuse protection and foster care, rising to a regional management position, training child-protective workers in the state of New York. I stopped working in 2010.”
Stopped working — or got shoved out due to incompetence or malfeasance or worse?
Up until 2007, David Peters was the Director of the Statewide Central Register of Child Abuse and Maltreatment (“SCR”). According to seethroughny.net, David R. Peters retired from the New York State Department of Children & Family Services on December 11, 2007 (not 2010). His New York State employee pension in 2018 was $77,389.
Peters was at the center of two major scandals at the SCR.
In 2004, Peters orchestrated a shredding campaign to improperly clear a backlog of requests that denied tens of thousands of innocent people a chance to clear their name in the wake of unfounded allegations of child abuse. In a Federal class action lawsuit, the Court found that Peters denied thousands of people falsely accused of child abuse the chance to clear their name; damaging their reputation, preventing them from completing adoptions or denying them opportunities to work with children.
According to a report in the The Post-Standard (Syracuse, NY). Peters orchestrated a massive coverup:
“The state Office of Children and Family Services (“OCFS”) in 2004 had a backlog of requests for hearings from people accused of mistreating children…the agency had a solution to the thousands of pending written requests that would come under scrutiny by the lawsuit, according to sworn testimony from state workers: Shred.”
“For a month in 2004, the workers were under orders to take carts of the requests for name-clearing hearings and shred them after hours in their Albany offices, according to the testimony. They shredded about a thousand a day for a month, one OCFS worker testified.”
David Peters was identified in federal court testimony by an SCR whistleblower as the architect of the shredding operation:
“Four years after the suit was filed, a whistleblower who works for OCFS called Hoffman (the plaintiffs’ lawyer). She told him how the agency was getting rid of the written requests for hearings, then marking the case “waived” or “withdrawn” on the database, court papers said. The state never told the accused. To the inquiring employer, it would appear that the person had given up on their request for a hearing, and the child abuse accusation stood.”
“The backlog of hearing requests was much longer than two years — some requests had been sitting around for seven years, court papers said.”
“The whistleblower came forward in February 2009. Hoffman then took testimony of 18 or 19 OCFS workers about the handling of the requests for hearings, he said.”
“In some cases, workers called the prospective employers with whom the accused person had applied for a job, according to the workers’ testimony. If the employer was no longer interested, the state workers were told to mark the file “waived,” according to the testimony of six OCFS workers. The accused person was never notified in those cases. The written requests were shredded or thrown in the garbage, at least three of the workers testified.”
“If the whistleblower hadn’t come forward about the shredded cases, Hoffman would never have known the extent of the backlog, he said.”
“Cathy Dufty, a clerical worker in the office, testified that supervisor David Peters ordered her to gather a bunch of temp workers and start shredding.”
“I would go down to his office about 3:30 and I would take the cart back, and it would be, ‘These are to be shredded, and these over here are to be refiled,’” Dufty testified last year.”
“Peters was then the director of the statewide Central Register of Child Abuse and Maltreatment. He has since retired. In his deposition for the lawsuit, Peters denied that his agency did anything improper…”
The settlement required the state to send notices to the 25,000 people on the central register whose requests for hearings were ignored between 2003 and 2007.
Peters was at the center of another massive failure which was investigated by the New York State Inspector General. A final report was issued in December 2008.
A report of child abuse by a “John Doe” to the Statewide Central Register of Child Abuse and Maltreatment (“SCR”) was determined by the local investigating agency to be unfounded. Doe sought to have his record expunged without success. His aggressive and persistent complaints led to an investigation by the New York State Inspector General which uncovered several serious breaches of confidentiality at the SCR.
Under New York State Social Services Law, the SCR may not retain records of expunged cases but, under Peters leadership, the SCR did so anyway.
The SCR computer system was designed so that it retained records of correspondence relating to expungement requests.
An SCR secretary working under Peters maintained an Excel spreadsheet of expunged cases. She also gave out confidential information on expunged records over the telephone.
SCR was unaware that the OCFS also operated a database that retained SCR information regarding expunged cases.
An OCFS Area Manager revealed a partial name of an individual reporting the alleged abuse in violation of state law.
Conversely, SCR was required to keep telephone records for three years but instead SCR employees arbitrarily used the capacity of a file cabinet drawer to determine the length of time records should be kept. Contrary to policy, the oldest bills were removed and shredded when the drawer was filled, usually after about 18 months.
In an attempting to prove that SCR had not expunged his records as required, Doe managed to obtain phone records from Verizon.
According to the IG Report:
“On September 11, 2007, John Doe contacted Suffolk County DSS Commissioner Janet DiMarzo and provided her with one-page of the SCR hotline records. DiMarzo provided the records to David Peters at the SCR. Peters did not report Doe’s possession of the SCR hotline records to his superiors at OCFS.”
“When informed by Doe that he had gained possession of hotline records, OCFS Assistant Deputy Counsel John Stupp immediately recognized the serious breach of confidentiality and attempted to persuade Doe to return the records.”
On October 3, 2008, after Peters “retired”, OCFS informed the Inspector General that it performed 67 data fixes to delete improper records relating to Doe and other expunged cases.
Two years after the Federal lawsuit was filed, Peters took out a $100,000 loan with is wife, Wanda Austin-Peters, to open a Subway franchise in Albany, NY. She and Peters came up with the balance of the roughly $240,000 in start-up costs The shop opened on October 12, 2006. Austin-Peters owned and operated the Subway franchise for a decade before selling it in May 2015.
Despite investing a quarter-million dollars into a Subway restaurant, Peters today claims he made no plans for retirement.
“When I stopped working in 2010, I didn’t have a retirement plan. My plan was to develop a plan. After years in state bureaucracies, seeing the services set up without the input of those being served, I knew I wanted to use my skill sets to have an impact on the life of my community of New Rochelle, a low-income, mostly African-American and Latino area where gentrification was occurring.”
New Rochelle is not a “low-income community”. The Census Bureau estimates the median income for a family was $88,004; less than 10% of the population lived below the poverty line. Realtor.com estimates the average home value in New Rochelle is $680,000.
New Rochelle is not “mostly African-American and Latino”. According to the 2010 U.S. Census, the population is 64.8% White (47.9% Non-Hispanic White), 18.1% Black. 27.8% were Hispanic or Latino of any race.
On his web site, Peters says “I also teach at New York University”.
There is a “Dr. David Peters” listed as an Adjunct Lecturer at the Silver School of Social Work. “Dr. Peters” is listed as teaching one course, MSWPF-GS 2010: Diversity, Racism, Oppression, Privilege.
UPDATE: We heard back from Robert Polner at the Media Relations Office at the NYU Silver School:
“David Peters is an adjunct lecturer. He has taught a number of different classes in social work, including an MSW elective called “Understanding Structural Racism”, and another course called “Diversity, Race, Privilege, and Oppression.” He is not teaching any classes during this semester. He is not a doctoral candidate – we’re correcting that on our website.”
EDITOR’S NOTE: The NYU web site has been updated to remove the reference to Peters having a doctorate degree. It is not clear why NYU would refer to candidates as having a doctorate.
The course description says it is a “fully online class” and that there are “no in-person meeting for this class”. Peters is not listed as among the 15 “Recent Professors” teaching the class.
The NYU Bulletin reads:
This course centers on expanding the student’s understanding of the meaning of race, ethnicity, class, gender, and culture, as well as the concepts of prejudice, discrimination, oppression, stigma, and stereotyping. Racism, particularly as it impacts on personal, professional, institutional, and societal levels, is studied. Special attention is given to the experiences of African Americans and Latinos in U.S. society in general and in the New York City metropolitan area in particular. Within an integrative perspective, implications for direct and indirect social work practice are explored. Specifically, the importance of ethnoculturally competent practice for the individual worker and the design of service delivery systems are covered.
The NYU Bulletin reads:
This advanced elective is designed to help students identify and understand the impact of structural racism. The course provides students with the necessary understanding and tools to address racism in practice, policies, programs, research and evaluation. Students will be introduced to cutting edge analysis and methods of addressing racism and will be helped to consider new alternatives to practice methods that hinder effective social change. The course will include attendance at an AntiRacist Alliance event. The course will be supplemented by visiting lecturers from the People’s Institute for Survival and Beyond, a national, multiracial, anti-racist collective of clinicians, organizers and educators dedicated to undoing racism in the field of social work and beyond. Since its founding in 1980, The People’s Institute has trained over 110,000 people in hundreds of communities throughout the United States and internationally. It is recognized as one of the most effective anti-racist training and organizing institutions in the nation.
Peters teaches a course at NYU which is basically a 3-credit version of the “Undoing Racism” Workshop, taught in partnership with the People’s Institute for Survival and Beyond and the Anti-Racist Alliance
Peters moved to New Rochelle in 2011 after time in Albany and New York City. When he first relocated to New Rochelle he became involved in The Gathering of Men, a civic group with a mission to promote individual growth and empowerment among adult and young males, improve the lives of youth and their families and confront the issues plaguing the African-American community through mentoring, male presence and leadership roles in the community. It was through the Gathering of Men that this reporter first encountered David Peters. At the time, he was in the early stages of launching what would become the My Brother’s Keeper Program in New Rochelle.
Peters was ultimately pushed aside from leadership in both The Gathering of Men and My Brother’s Keeper.
Peters next started up NewROAR, a far-left group of political activists dedicated to attributing racism as a motive for any decision by City and School officials with which they disagree and engaging in hate-speech towards any person who questions their actions or motives.
The group has been especially active in the wake of reporting by Talk of the Sound that led to exposing the Apex grade-fixing scandal and the firing of former New Rochelle High School House Principal Shadia Alvarez.
At the December 4, 2018 meeting of the New Rochelle Board of Education, more than a dozen speakers rose to defend Alvarez and brand as “racist” anyone who supported her termination. More people sent letters and emails defending Alvarez while attacking reporters who accurately cited government investigations of Alvarez tied to her tenure as a corrupt high school principal at the Collegiate Institute for Math and Science in the Bronx.
The two main speakers that night were David Peters, who identified himself as speaking on behalf of NewROAR, and Sandy Bernabei, who identified herself as speaking on behalf of the Anti-Racist Alliance. Bernabei read an official statement and submitted a dozen letters from members of her organization.
The speakers and letter-writers had two main points:
- Do not listen to Robert Cox.
- Shadia Alvarez is the innocent victim of a racially-motivated smear campaign.
The letters from the Anti-Racism Alliance were from Westchester, Rockland, Queens, Manhattan, The Bronx, Pennsylvania, Illinois, California and more.
What is the connection between David Peters and Sandy Bernabei, between NewROAR and the Anti-Racism Alliance?
In a word. Money.
David Peters is a paid “core trainer” for the People’s Institute for Survival and Beyond, a group based in Louisiana that markets so-called anti-racism workshops at $350 a head.
The People’s Institute for Survival and Beyond has one main product. They sell a workshop called “Undoing Racism”, a two day program for which they charge $350 per person.
Making money by selling racism workshops looks a lot like David Peters’ “retirement plan”.
The Undoing Racism workshops are co-facilitated by the People’s Institute for Survival and Beyond and the Anti-Racist Alliance.
In other words, David Peters and Sandy Bernabei are business partners.
Fifteen people signed the Anti-Racism Alliance Statement read to the board on December 4th. Ten people who addressed the board directly on December 4th are Core Trainers for the People’s Institute for Survival. Eight of those ten are confirmed members of the Anti-Racist Alliance.
The business model of the People’s Institute for Survival and Beyond and the Anti-Racist Alliance is to convince organizations like the New Rochelle Board of Education that they have a sickness — racism — and their group has the cure — “Undoing Racism” workshops at $350 a head.
Peters is a classic snake oil salesman.
What none of the speakers bothered to mention is that one of the other Core Trainers for the People’s Institute for Survival and Beyond is the woman they were defending, Shadia Alvarez.
All of the reporting on Shadia Alvarez by Robert Cox of Talk of the Sound has been based on Federal court records, and official reports by the New York City Department of Education’s Office of Special Investigations, the Special Commissioner of Investigations, an Ernst & Young audit and the T&M Report commissioned by the New Rochelle Board of Education.
The documented truth has not prevented David Peters and his colleagues from hurling all manner of racist invective at anyone who supported the removal of Alvarez from her position at New Rochelle High School.
Maurice Lacey, a Lecturer at the Columbia University School of Social Work, accused Colleen Wilson of the Journal News and Rebecca Solomon of News12 of perpetrating a “public lynching”.
Rev. Daniel A. Buford, Executive Director of the Berkeley Organizing Congregations for Action based in Berkeley, California called Robert Cox of Talk of the Sound a Neo-Nazi:
“Like many who hold White Nationalist, ideals he (Cox) sounds incapable of accepting people of color in positions of authority,” said Buford.
“The attacks by the Journal News, News 12, and Talk of the Sound, are unwarranted and defamatory,” said Margery Freeman.
“It is disappointing and enraging to read the bare faced and twisted lies and half-truths in this smear campaign by The Journal News, News 12 and Talk of the Sound,” wrote Rev. Buford.
“I’m angry at News12 and The Journal News for their complicity in this matter that has serious racial undertones media fabrications,” said Lacey.
“The salacious articles and news stories about Ms. Alvarez and the New Rochelle School System…are based on false information, and I believe the attacks on Ms. Alvarez are unjust and racist,” wrote Rev. Joseph Barndt, a Lutheran Pastor in New York City. “They seem to be part of a pattern of attacks, particularly aimed toward people of color, that are designed to cause fear and misunderstanding and to undermine the work of education in our communities.”
“The writing of the blogger Robert Cox –and subsequent coverage in local news media –have been one-sided, self-referential, and baseless,” said Chris Black, a 2nd Grade Teacher from New York City. “Taking this lone writer’s personal vendetta seriously has only stoked an environment of hostility, creating conditions that promote fear, stifle innovation, will ultimately make retention of talent like Ms. Alvarez’s impossible in your institutions.”
Black called on the school board to “reject attacks like Cox’s for what they really are: reactionary, unsubstantiated, and unjust.”
“This pattern of attack and slander in Talk of the Sound, then gets picked up by The Journal News and News 12 and is so one-sided and inflammatory,” wrote NewROAR members Erica and Steve Itzkowitz. “This slanderous attack against Ms. Alvarez has contributed to an atmosphere of fear, and administrators cannot work in these conditions.”
“We lost Mr. Richardson and Dr. Osborn (sic), who were trying to make positive change, to these one sided, slanderous attacks,” said the couple who decried Cox’s “unfair and biased personal attack” on Alvarez.
“What is behind this character assassination of a highly qualified person as is Ms. Alvarez,” wondered Buford. “Why is Robert Cox so angry? Why are his articles aimed at discrediting People of Color?”
“It seems that Mr Cox has expanded his Character Assassination campaign to other POC in the New Rochelle School District.”
Margery Freeman called on the New Rochelle Board of Education to stop the “slander against Shadia Alvarez.”
“The attacks by the Journal News, News 12, and Talk of the Sound, are unwarranted and defamatory to Ms. Alvarez,” said Freeman, who protested the “the libelous statements against Ms. Alvarez.”
Trish Farley expressed “disappointment and anger” at what she called the “slanderous attack” of Shadia Alvarez.
Farley said it was shameful for Cox “to distort stories into a deceitful attack”.
“I am disappointed that news outlets are furthering these outrageous claims, and furious that they are impacting such a wonderful person,” said Farley.
“As one whose only view of this issue is that which has been gathered from The National (sic) News and News 12, I am deeply troubled by the apparent lack of objectivity in the reporting,” said Michael Washington. “There is clearly a reason for the absence of coverage of Ms. Alvarez’s perspectives.”
“I’ve followed with increasing outrage the pattern of attack and slander in The Journal News, News 12 and Talk of the Sound on Shadia Alvarez,” said Teresa Willis. “Slanderous attacks like those being put forth by the aforementioned news outlets can make it difficult for administrators like yourselves to retain innovative administrators at the District by creating an atmosphere of fear.”
Willis called on the New Rochelle Board of Education to “ignore the slanderous attacks and act on the truth; the truth about Shadia Alvarez.”
“I have no doubt that the treatment Ms. Alvarez is receiving is connected to her being a Latina Woman in power,” said Lacey. “I’m angry at News12 and The Journal News for their complicity in this matter that has serious racial undertones media fabrications.
“The current backdrop of false news and a culture where honesty is compromised” has fueled “the reckless writings of an irresponsible blogger, and then has been cited by newspaper and television as authentic information,” he added.
“It was appalling to see the extent of such “harm through slander,” when people interviewed by News 12 called for a New Rochelle principal’s resignation based upon this blogger’s incomplete and inaccurate reporting. The constant slander of professional educators by this blogger and the consistent pattern of attacks against students at the high school – particularly their academic achievement – is always suspect because his targets are almost always people of color.”
“The onslaught of vicious, subjective and personal attacks on Principal Shadia Alvarez of New Rochelle High School…create an atmosphere of fear, intimidation and panic amongst the entire community,” said Ina Pannell-Saint Surin, who called the attack “questionable” and said there was a need to “examine the questionable intentions of these attacks on Ms. Alvarez.”
Despite these baseless, incendiary rants from the lunatic left, the New Rochelle Board of Education gave Shadia Alvarez 30 days notice on December 4th that she would be terminated at the next board meeting based on the findings of T&M Report on Apex Investigation.
Alvarez was formally terminated at the New Rochelle Board of Education meeting on January 8th, 2019.
Peters, who came in third in last year’s Board of Education election, fell a few votes short of winning the seat left vacant by Maddali Atallah. He is widely expected to run again in May.
David Peters did not respond to a request for comment on this story.
- David Peters
- Margery Freeman
- Maurice Lacey
- Joe Barndt
- Milta Vega-Cardona
- Senait Brown
- Shadia Alvarez
- Michael Washington
- Trish Farley
- Maria Reinat-Pumarej
- Margery Freeman (Core Trainer, Peoples Institute for Survival and Beyond).
- Erica and Steve Itzkowitz, (NewROAR, Attended Peoples Institute for Survival and Beyond workshop).
- Rev. Daniel A. Buford, Executive Director of the Berkeley Organizing Congregations for Action based in Berkeley, California. He heads the Prophetic Justice Ministry at Allen Temple. He is a founding organizer and trainer of the People’s Institute for Survival and Beyond based in New Orleans, Louisiana and has conducted Undoing Racism workshops throughout the United States, South Africa, and Japan.
- Chris Black, 2nd Grade Teacher from New York City.
- Rev. Joseph Barndt, a Lutheran Pastor in New York City (Peoples Institute for Survival and Beyond)
- Michael Washington (Peoples Institute for Survival and Beyond)
- Teresa Willis (Peoples Institute for Survival and Beyond)
- Maurice Lacey, a Lecturer and Curriculum Development Team at the Columbia University School of Social Work
- Sandra Bernabei, LCSW Antiracist Alliance, Ardsley and 280 Madison Avenue @ 40th Street Suite 305, Suite 1402 New York, New York 10016.
- Phyllis B. Frank VCS, Inc Rockland County 77 South Main Street New City, NY 10956
- Gail K. Golden, MSW,Ed.D Co-chair Rockland Immigration Coalition, Rockland County. Board Member: NY Civil Liberties Union.
- Derek A. Jones, Educator, Former Principal, and New Rochelle High School Parent
- Patricia Kuusisto Anti-Racist Alliance, Mt. Kisco
- Edward Leonhard Ph. D Ardsley, NY and 280 Madison Ave ( Corner Of 40th St)
- Suite 305 New York, New York 10016
- Jordan Margolis, LCSW-R Anti-racist Alliance, Ossining (Peoples Institute for Survival and Beyond)
- Onaje Muid 321 Clearbrook Ave Lansdowne, Pennsylvania 19050 Columbia School of Social Work 1255 Amsterdam Avenue New York, NY 10027-5927
- Rev. William E. Norman Sr. SolidRock Christian Center, Yonkers. Founder and senior pastor of SolidRock Christian Center, established in 1997. Reverend Norman serves as chaplain for the Yonkers Police Department and Auxiliary Police. He and his wife Tamara also serve as chaplains for the New York State Chaplaincy Task Force.
- Brian Romero, LMSW, CASAC Queens
- Ina Pannell-Saint Surin Brooklyn, NY
- Roberta Samet LCSW NYC
- Ann Spaeth Anti-Racist Alliance, Rye
- Milta Vega Cardona Queens, NY (Peoples Institute for Survival and Beyond)
- Rev Joseph Barndt Trinity Lutheran Church NYC 164 West 100th Street. New, a core trainer and organizer with the Peoples Institute for Survival and Beyond, an anti-racism organization based in New Orleans.