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The head of an elite Manhattan private school in the throes of an internal war over its progressive agenda is leaving at the end of the year.
Dalton School chief Jim Best announced his exit in a Friday letter and said he was leaving to pursue “other exciting and inspiring opportunities” after 16 years at the helm.
Considered one of the city’s most exclusive academic bastions, Dalton counts Anderson Cooper and Chevy Chase as graduates.
But the school has been divided this year over its embrace of progressive politics.
An anonymous group of parents penned a letter objecting to Dalton’s direction in January.
“Every class this year has had an obsessive focus on race and identity, ‘racist cop’ reenactments in science, ‘de-centering whiteness’ in art class, learning about white supremacy and sexuality in health class,” the missive stated. “Wildly inappropriate, many of these classes feel more akin to a Zoom corporate sensitivity-training than to Dalton’s intellectually engaging curriculum.”
The school’s former head of diversity, Domonic Rollins, left in February in the wake of that firestorm.
In his Friday note, Best listed some of his most notable achievements at the 89th Street K-12 school.
He listed “attracting and supporting a historically diverse student body, assembling a historically diverse faculty, staff, and Leadership Team; reenvisioning and reinvigorating curricula in science, math, world and classical languages, physical education and athletics; advancing an ambitious Diversity, Equity & Inclusion mission.”
Best also noted that the school completed “the largest building project in the school’s history” under his watch.
But tensions began bubbling to the surface in December when the school issued an “anti-racism” manifesto crafted by faculty members.
Among other demands, the document called for the hiring of 12 diversity officers and an overhaul of the entire curriculum to better reflect social justice imperatives.
While many parents backed the initiative, other said it created an excessive emphasis on racial issues and differences.
Best did not address any of these fissures in his note.
“Thank you for the incredible amount of time, support, intelligence, wit, and ingenuity you’ve shown me during my time at Dalton,” he said. “I’m truly grateful for the work we’ve done together. I want the best for Dalton, because I want the best for you.”
This story first appeared in the New York Post.
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