Mon Nov 19
NEW YORK – An educator who helped create the city’s first Arabic-themed public school sued the city on Monday, saying officials forced her to resign following a furor over her public comments.
Debbie Almontaser said in the lawsuit that her constitutional rights were violated when she was pressured to resign in August from the Khalil Gibran International Academy in Brooklyn. She had been criticized for not condemning the use of the word “intifada” on a T-shirt made by a youth organization.
The school, named for the Lebanese Christian poet who promoted peace, opened quietly in September with 55 sixth-grade students enrolled. It is the first in the city to teach Arabic and Arab culture.
She said in the lawsuit that the meaning of her words was distorted after she told a reporter that intifada emerged from a root word meaning “shake off” and that the word has different meanings for different people but certainly implies violence to many, especially in connection with the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.
At a rally outside U.S. District Court in Manhattan, Almontaser listened as lawyers, educators and two city councilmen criticized the city and called for her to be reinstated as principal.
Her lawsuit seeks unspecified damages for injury to her career and reputation, pain, suffering and emotional distress. Read more…