A Hempstead teacher claims in a new lawsuit in federal court in Central Islip that the school district took no disciplinary action after a student threatened her with sexual assault and discriminated against her because she was white.
Lynne Albuquerque, a high school science teacher in Hempstead's schools for 10 years, says in the suit that, during a class in May 2014, an African-American student identified as "NL" threatened to sexually assault her and her daughter.
The suit says African-American school officials took no action against the student -- reversing a three-day suspension and telling Albuquerque she "instigated" the incident. They later opposed compensation for time she took off, and have now suspended her pending a disciplinary hearing on medical claims she made.
Albuquerque says in the suit that her "harassment and retaliation" after the incident arose from a "pervasive culture of racial animus against Caucasian individuals, evidenced from the outset by the District's refusal to act as to NL's actions or otherwise protect plaintiff."
"It's bizarre," said her lawyer, Steve Morelli of Garden City, who has filed two other suits alleging discrimination against white employees by Hempstead's schools. "You don't protect your teacher, you bring her up on charges?"
Hempstead school officials did not respond to messages left for the Board of Education and administrators on Wednesday.
The two-week leave Albuquerque took as a result of being "traumatized" was the kind of brief medical absence "routinely" granted to African-American employees, but frequently denied to whites, the lawsuit claimed.
Albuquerque had been rated "highly effective" in the 2013-14 school year, the suit said, and 100 percent of her students passed the Regents exam in 2014-15.
In addition to reporting the incident to school officials, it said, Albuquerque reported the threat to police and the Nassau County district attorney. Morelli said his client never heard anything back in response to those complaints.
In addition to reporting the incident to school officials, it said, Albuquerque reported the threat to police and the Nassau County district attorney. Morelli said his client never heard anything back in response to those complaints.A spokesman for acting District Attorney Madeline Singas said in a statement, "No teacher should have to endure persistent verbal abuse from a student and school administrators should take all appropriate action to protect their faculty from disruptive and disrespectful students."
"However," the spokesman added, "the allegations reported to our office regarding the classroom conduct of a 15-year-old, while unacceptable and intolerably offensive, do not constitute a chargeable crime."