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Minority Students Banned From Exhibit at NY Botanical Garden, Suit Alleges

By Victor Trammell

Photo credits: Getty Images

The New York Botanical Garden is a nationally-renowned historical landmark of horticulture, which attracts over one million tourists annually.

However, current allegations of racism are making the institute appear to be unwelcoming to minority students who come from area public school districts.

According to the New York Post newspaper, a civil lawsuit has been filed in New York City’s Manhattan Federal Court, which accuses faculty members at the New York Botanical Garden of planting some seeds of bigotry and racism into the institute’s social soil.

The lawsuit claims that a group of Hispanic and black students from the Bronx borough of New York City were denied entry into the Frida Kahlo exhibit called “Art Garden Life.” This incident reportedly occurred in June of 2015. The minority children were students at the American Dream Charter School.

A former employee of the New York Botanical Garden named Andrea Chusid  is the lawsuit’s plaintiff. She also claims that the institute fired her when she complained to superiors about what she described as “blatant” racism that targeted the minority students at the American Dream Charter School. “The group of minority students, along with their adult teachers, witnessed the Caucasian children being allowed to view the special exhibition while [they] … were being denied entry,” Chusid said, according to the New York Post.

The American Dream Charter School’s treasury department paid $1,000 for the minority students to attend the exhibit. However, school administrators demanded a refund of the money once they found out what happened. The money was paid back to the school but the affected parties were still seething with discontent after experiencing this discriminatory experience. Chusid is being represented by an attorney named Nicole Grunfeld, a top-flight employment and labor attorney who works as a Senior Associate at a New York City law firm called Katz Melinger PLLC.

This was not the first incident of discrimination committed by faculty members at the New York Botanical Garden. In April of 2015, around 80 black students from the Brooklyn borough of New York City had to unwillingly wait for their bus for an hour or so after being banned from the institute after one student was reprimanded for a minor disciplinary infraction. The black students who were discriminated against in this particular incident were students at Downtown Brooklyn’s Science Skills Center High School.

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