November 19, 2007
By Jennifer Medina
Debbie Almontaser, the founding principal of the city’s first Arabic-language school, filed a federal lawsuit today [pdf] against the city’s Education Department, Schools Chancellor Joel I. Klein and Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, charging that they violated her right to free speech and “conspired to deny her the opportunity to regain her position as principal” of the school, the Khalil Gibran International Academy.
“Given her long history as a peace educator in New York City, and her vital role in coalition building post 9/11, the loss of Almontaser as principal of KGIA throws a shadow of shame on us all; what my mother, Rose Fine, a Jewish immigrant from Poland, would call a “shanda” –- a deep, penetrating shame that saturates the soul of our civic community.”
Ms. Almontaser resigned under pressure in August, after a furor that erupted after she was quoted in The New York Post defending the use of the word “intifada” on a T-shirt. Last month, Ms. Almontaser said that she was a victim of a right-wing smear campaign, that she had been forced to resign and that she would apply to get her job back. But Education Department officials said that they would not consider her application among the 25 others that were submitted at the time.
The Education Department did not respond immediately to a request for comment. Read more…