The founding principal of the city’s first Arabic-language school — who resigned in a controversy over “Intifada NYC” T-shirts — sued Mayor Bloomberg, Schools Chancellor Joel Klein and Deputy Mayor Dennis Walcott on Monday, saying their “extreme and outrageous” actions “recklessly caused severe emotional distress” from a resignation that was demanded so that the mayor could announce it on his radio show.
Debbie Almontaser’s suit, filed in federal district court in Manhattan, claims her firing violated her freedom of speech.
The suit demands an unspecified amount of money in personal injury and punitive damages, and a court injunction halting the city’s search for a permanent replacement until she is given a fair chance to get her job back.
The school, the Khalil Gibran International Academy, has been a lighting rod of controversy since it was announced in February.
In August during an interview with the New York Post, Almontaserdefined “intifada” as “shaking off” and did not condemn the “Intifada NYC”Ã¢â‚¬Ë†T-shirts made by a group with which her organization shared office space.
Although she subsequently condemned the shirts and issued a formal apology, the uproar led to her resignation.
According to the suit, an education official told her that running such a “sensitive school” required “quick thinking,” and that, if she hoped to see the school open, she would have to resign. Deputy Mayor Walcott allegedly told her the mayor wanted her resignation by 8 am the next morning so that he could announce it on his weekly radio show.