A former Hempstead school district athletic director has sued the district in federal court alleging racial discrimination when he was fired in 2013.
Robert Cincotta, 57, said in the lawsuit filed Aug. 17 in U.S. District Court in Central Islip that he was subjected to discriminatory comments from African-American colleagues and supervisors in his final years as the district's athletic and physical education director. Cincotta, who is white, is seeking $10 million in damages.
"The Hempstead Union Free School District does not discriminate against color, creed or religion," spokesman Todd Shapiro said Sunday. "It is our policy to not comment on any pending lawsuits or litigation."See alsoRead the auditMore coverageOpinion and analysis: Hempstead School DistrictDataLI graduation rates
Cincotta, who lives in Massapequa Park according to public records, had been a teacher in the district since 1985. He was named athletic director in 2005, according to the lawsuit.
In it, he alleged that during the last two school years he worked for the district he was ridiculed for leaving the sidelines during football activities because of health problems exacerbated by the sun. The comments were racial in nature, according to the lawsuit.
Cincotta also alleged that in February 2013 his supervisors retaliated against him for informing coaches that some players on athletic teams were ineligible to play because of failing grades. An assistant to Superintendent Susan Johnson allegedly called him a "racist" who was "trying to hurt black kids," according to the lawsuit.
In May, Johnson recommended that Cincotta's position be eliminated for budget reasons, but in September promoted a faculty member to the position of director of physical education.
The school board terminated 13 employees on June 20, 2013, including Cincotta, because of "excessing," a term used for a reduction in faculty due to a drop in enrollment or cuts to state or federal funding.
The lawsuit also alleges that Cincotta, a tenured teacher, was discriminated against because of his age.
The district had 6,280 students enrolled in the 2012-2013 school year, the last year Cincotta was with the district, according to the New York State Education Department. State data show the district's student body that year was 59 percent Latino, 37 percent African-American, 3 percent white and 1 percent Asian or Pacific Islander.