Federal Judge Finds District Did Little To Stem The Bias...
PINE BUSH – The Pine Bush Central School District now faces the prospect of a trial in the lawsuit brought by five Jewish students and their families alleging anti-Semitic acts and harassment from a period some years ago, according to the conclusion of Federal Judge Kenneth Karas from his court in White Plains on November 4. However, the judge dismissed parts of the lawsuit directed at specific administrators and principals because they duplicated other aspects of the case.
The lawsuit alleges that the plaintiff students were subjected to anti-Semitic bullying and harassment in both elementary and middle school and that the district administration did little to put a stop to it. The district's position has been that it did respond in an appropriate manner, bringing in motivational speakers against bullying and having a survivor of the Holocaust address students.
Judge Karas, who was nominated for the bench by President George W. Bush, found that the legal team for the Jewish students had provided enough evidence for their claims under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act (1964) and under the equal protection clause of the 14th amendment to the US Constitution (1868), which provides that no state shall deny to any person within its jurisdiction "the equal protection of the laws."
Article VI of the Civil Rights Act prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color and national origins in programs receiving federal financial assistance.
Ilann M. Maazel, attorney representing the students was quoted saying, "This is an important victory for these kids, and for all the victims of harassment and bullying at school."
Adele Kimmel, senior attorney at Public Justice — which joined the plaintiff's legal team — added, "The ruling puts schools on notice that they can't turn a blind eye to rampant harassment. They must take adequate steps to try and eradicate a culture of bias."
The Pine Bush School District said in a statement, "We are obviously disappointed by this ruling, but we will have the opportunity at trial to demonstrate that the district and individual administrators were not indifferent to allegations of anti-Semitism. Stakeholders of the Pine Bush Central School District continue to advocate for a learning environment of tolerance and acceptance for all students."
Pine Bush schools have all joined a "No Place For Hate" campaign this fall to ramp up the effort to bring tolerance for diversity to their school population.