Fed Lawsuit Targets Midville School Leader
The principal of a Middle Village school is being sued by a former special education teacher who claims he sexually harassed her-and ultimately caused her dismissal when she spurned his advances, it was noted.
The Times Newsweekly obtained a copy of the lawsuit filed by lawyers for Lisa Calise last Thursday, Dec. 26, in the U.S. District Court in Brooklyn against P.S./I.S. 49 Principal Anthony Lombardi and the city Department of Education (DOE).
According to the complaint, the 34-year-old Calise-who began teaching at P.S./I.S. 49 in September 2010-alleged that Lombardi, who is in his 50s, “subjected [her] to a barrage of blatant and relentless sexual harassment.”
This reportedly included constant inquiries made by Lombardi about her being in a relationship, remarks about her body and, in certain instances, physical confrontations in which he allegedly touched her inappropriately.
As noted in the lawsuit, the harassment allegedly began at the job interview in August 2010. Calise claimed Lombardi looked at her left hand, saw she was not wearing a ring and asked if she had a boyfriend. When she told him that she did not, he allegedly asked, “a pretty girl like you without a boyfriend?”
Calise “felt uncomfortable during his questioning, but said nothing out of fear of not getting the position,” the complaint noted.
She “categorically rejected” other advances “by physically pushing Lombardi away, walking out of the room and telling Mr. Lombardi ‘don’t touch me’ and ‘leave me alone,'” as noted in the complaint. Reportedly, the principal would respond by claiming Calise to be “crabby” or “moody.”
The plaintiff also alleged that Lombardi and the school failed to provide her with the proper materials to teach students with disabilities and took no action against a co-worker whom Calise worked with and acted in an unprofessional manner in the classroom.
Calise was reportedly informed by her union representative in May 2012 that Lombardi was considering firing her for “telling him how to do his job,” as noted in the complaint. Subsequently, during a meeting days later, Lombardi stated he would not give tenure due to “anger issues.”
The lawsuit claims Calise was given the choice of resigning immediately or being terminated; she chose the former option “reluctantly.”
The ousted teacher previously filed charges of discrimination with the state Division of Human Rights and the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), which sent her a “notice of right to sue” on Oct. 28, 2013.
Calise is seeking “compensatory, emotional, physical and punitive damages, back pay, front pay, liquidated damages, injunctive relief and any other damages permitted by law,” as noted in the civil suit A trial by jury was demanded pending further review.
Since the litigation is pending, the DOE declined to comment on the matter when contacted by the Times Newsweekly Monday afternoon, Dec. 30.