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Billionaire Says Harlem School Turned Him Away Because He Supports Trump

By Dartunorro Clark | August 1, 2016 3:32pm
 School officials at Opportunity Charter School said they were concerned about students being exposed to Dan Peña's speaking style.
School officials at Opportunity Charter School said they were concerned about students being exposed to Dan Peña's speaking style.
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DNAinfo/Jeff Mays

HARLEM — Supporting Donald Trump cost a billionaire the chance to speak to city students, he claims.

Dan Peña, the self-proclaimed “50 Billion Dollar Man” and a motivational speaker, was slated to speak at Opportunity Charter School on May 2 about his rags-to-riches story but the school rescinded the offer, he said.

Peña, who was born in America but lives in Guthrie, Scotland, claims it was because of his support of Trump. The school said it's because he curses too much for a student presentation.

He penned a letter on LinkedIn, attaching a note he recently sent to the school’s director of education, Jessica Marcu, on June 22 criticizing the decision to rescind the offer to speak to students. 

"People like you...seem to smother students with insular and over protective nannyism,” he wrote.

Peña, founder of a business seminar known as Quantum Leap Advantage, “has produced $50 Billion of equity/value” through his business endeavors, according to his website.

He said in the LinkedIn post that his story would have been motivational. 

"The concepts I speak of, or perhaps the language I use, was deemed too 'rough,' too 'direct,' too 'off putting.' Or in today's handy excuse for suppressing ideas, perhaps too 'offensive' to the teachers to allow them to be exposed to students," he said. 

In a profanity-laced interview with London Real Academy in March, Peña laments about “political correctness” in the country — something that Trump has also lambasted — and gave a ringing endorsement of his fellow businessman.

“If he’s serious about being president, he will rock not only the United States of America, he will rock the world,” Peña said in the interview.

“He will rock the planet… he’s going to change it."

The school, however, denied the change of mind had anything to do with Peña's endorsement of Trump.

A school official said a staff member extended an invitation to Peña without going through the proper channels, in which the school vets all of its proposed speakers.

“It had nothing to do with his political beliefs or affiliations,” said Jason Maymon, director of marketing and communications for the school.

“(It was) his style and his approach and his vulgar use of language.

“We take careful consideration when inviting speakers to OCS,” he said. “We did look into his background. We came across several YouTube videos (with) excessive use of profanity.”

“Our decision was solely based on what we felt was right for our students. We’re quite surprised by the level which this has been taken to.”

Peña did not respond to multiple requests for comment. 

Peña said in the letter he immediately left the country to make a speaking engagement at Oxford University on May 25. He noted that that university allowed him to give his speech.  

“You would think that American educators would want our kids, especially our kids from poorer families, to hear what top rated Oxford students hear,” he said in the LinkedIn post.

“But you’d be wrong. American schools now hide their students from ideas like mine, if they don’t approve of the man or the message.”