By Gina Martinez
After initially suing his boss for harassment over choosing not to inflate grades, John Bowne HS Vice Principal Marc Einsohn is claiming Principal Howard Kwait retaliated against him again for allegedly taking excessive time off.
These new claims were part of an amended lawsuit Einsohn filed last week. Einsohn previously sued Kwait in April for allegedly punishing him after he spoke out against inflating student grades.
According to the suit filed in federal court in Brooklyn, Kwait suggested students’ grades should be adjusted to fix the low passing rate during a December 2015 cabinet meeting. Einsohn spoke out against the idea, and as a result was “subjected to retaliatory harassment, punishment, and pressure to leave the school for not abiding to Kwait’s vision,” the suit says.
Now, according to the amended suit, Einsohn received a letter from Kwait on June 5 scheduling a disciplinary hearing, which was rescheduled from June 7 to June 9. The issue at hand was that Einsohn had allegedly had excessive absences. The suit contends that all the absences cited by Kwait occurred months before Kwait sent the letter and included insignificant absences like Einsohn leaving the building nine minutes early.
Einsohn said he followed all the normal channels in requesting time off and all the absences were administratively approved. According to the suit, the absences in dispute were medically certified after Einsohn attended multiple cancer screenings, a funeral and a Lasik surgery appointment, which Kwait allegedly mocked as “elective surgery.”
According to the suit, Einsohn was then summoned to a second disciplinary conference June 19 for vague accusations of misconduct, but Kwait “failed to specify what misconduct he was referring to.”
The suit said “Kwait engaged in his attempts to discipline Einsohn strictly to retaliate against Einsohn and damage Einsohn’s professional reputation.”
The suit claims Einsohn suffers from emotional stress because of Kwait’s campaign of retaliation and harassment.
This is the fifth suit brought against Kwait during his time as principal at the Flushing High school. In November 2016, former guidance counselor Lauren Prettitore sued Kwait for sexual harassment. In 2015, the city settled for $275,000 with teachers Maria Catenacci and Sally Maya, who sued over sexual harassment as well. In 2012, the city settled for an undisclosed amount with an assistant principal who accused Kwait of discriminating against her because she was pregnant, according to the New York Post. The city also paid $225,000 in a settlement over a student who was falsely accused of sending threatening e-mails.
Einsohn’s lawyer, Jonathan Tand, said the Department of Education is enabling Kwait by not taking action against him.
“By not putting a stop to his behavior, the DOE is essentially condoning Kwait’s actions,” Tand said. “His recent actions towards my client were clearly intended to retaliate against Mr. Einsohn. At what point does the DOE step in and put a stop to this man?”
A spokesman for the City Law Department said it is not discussing the matter while litigation is pending.
Reach Gina Martinez by e-mail at gmart