State Assemblyman targeted school principal who sued him for defamation
Two Bronx lawmakers derided an assistant principal at a Riverdale public school and pressured the de Blasio administration to do something about the educator, who had sued one of the pols for defamation, emails obtained by The Post reveal.
The messages surfaced recently during discovery in the suit, which former PS 24 assistant principal Manny Verdi filed against Assemblyman Jeff Dinowitz (D-Bronx).
In a Feb. 29, 2016, message, Dinowitz and Bronx Councilman Andrew Cohen tried to get a sit-down with one of the mayor’s top aides, just to complain about Verdi.
“PS 24 . . . There is an AP in place who they say has not done a good job. They wanted to explain the situation to Emma [Wolfe, then a top de Blasio aide],” John Paul Lupo, director of the mayor’s Office of City Legislative Affairs said in an email to other City Hall staffers.
The same day, Department of Education legislative staffer John Zaccaro Jr. wrote to then-DOE legislative director Justin Brannan. “The AP in question is Manny Verdi. Dinowitz and Cohen both feel that he along with the former principal are responsible for part of the schools overcrowding due to allowing out-of-zoned students into the school,” he wrote.This squeezing of a relatively low-level staffer didn’t sit well with school brass, according to another email.
“This has become very political and manipulative . . . The electeds should not be so involved with this,” Deputy Chancellor Dorita Gibson wrote in an April 27, 2016, email.
Verdi, who has since left the school, is suing Dinowitz in Manhattan Supreme Court for blaming him for the DOE’s failure to renew a lease in an annex building for PS 24.
Dinowitz referred questions about the emails to his lawyer, Charles Moerdler, who insisted that Dinowitz’s sole interest was getting a permanent principal assigned to the school, not ousting Verdi.
Cohen defended his actions in the matter as part of his job.