Rep. Suozzi says schools chief must explain Columbus Day ‘removal’

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US Rep. Tom Suozzi is demanding answers in the wake of the Department of Education’s abrupt move to scrap Columbus Day as a school holiday.

In a letter issued to city Schools Chancellor Meisha Ross Porter late Tuesday, Suozzi (D-Nassau) expressed his opposition to the decision to, at first change the holiday to “Indigenous Peoples’ Day” and later add “Italian Heritage Day” to the October holiday.

“I do not support the removal or replacement of Columbus Day,” Suozzi wrote, while demanding “information as to the process used to arrive at this decision.”

The school-year calendar posted online early Tuesday initially omitted any mention of Italian heritage, simply referring to the Oct. 11 holiday as “Indigenous Peoples’ Day.”

Suozzi, whose father came from Italy, told The Post the DOE’s after-the-fact nod to “Italian heritage” — under pressure from Mayor Bill de Blasio, who nevertheless supports the push to cancel Columbus, was “not good enough.”

“I don’t know what happened here. I just know that I was surprised, as were many other people,” Suozzi said Wednesday. “This should not be something that should come as a surprise to people. People should have the opportunity to make their points.”

U.S. Rep. Tom Suozzi (D-NY)
Rep. Thomas Suozzi says he does not support the removal or replacement of Columbus Day.
Shutterstock

Speaking to reporters Wednesday morning, Mayor Bill de Blasio claimed neither he nor Ross Porter had been informed of the plans to change the holiday — but insisted the joint celebration of Italian and Native American heritage was “right and appropriate.”

“We spoke about it and we both agreed this was not the right way to handle things,” Hizzoner said. “The original idea wasn’t sufficient and we addressed that.”

“I think saying, it’s a day to honor Italian American heritage is absolutely right and appropriate, and that’s the way to talk about it and think about it,” the mayor said.

“I think also saying, as has been done in many parts of the country, it’s a day to think about history and honor indigenous people as well — I agree with that too.”

Dozens of cities and jurisdictions across the US have ditched Columbus Day to honor Native Americans instead — following the lead of ultra-liberal Berkeley, Calif., which began observing the latter holiday in 1992.

De Blasio has been embroiled in Columbus controversy since at least 2018, when he said the Midtown statue of the famed explorer could be torn down by his “monuments commission.” The statue still stands three years later.

The NYC Department of Education has moved to scrap Columbus Day as a school holiday.
The NYC Department of Education has moved to scrap Columbus Day as a school holiday.
Robert Miller

The commission ultimately recommended creating explanatory plaques for the Columbus statue and other monuments — an effort de Blasio admitted had stalled.

“Obviously the last year plus everything’s been thrown off by the pandemic,” he said. “We want to follow through on that.”

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