Poly Prep intimidated witnesses in Cuba lawsuit: Plaintiff • Brooklyn Paper

Poly Prep intimidated witnesses in Cuba lawsuit: Plaintiff

Extra-curricular activity: An employee is suing tony Dyker Heights school Poly Prep — alleging her boss took students on a booze-fueled trip to Cuba, used school money to bribe alumni, and took kickbacks from school contractors.
Photo by Paul Martinka

Embattled Dyker Heights private school Poly Prep allegedly sent a goon to intimidate people who might speak out against a school administrator accused of retaliating against a whistle-blowing co-worker, according to new court filings in a lawsuit.

The school’s headmaster allegedly directed an attorney to urge people not to speak out against Steven Andersen — the Poly official the lawsuit accuses of taking two students on a booze-fueled trip to Cuba and then retaliating against former Poly staffer Lisa Della Pietra when she told higher-ups, according to an amended complaint filed by Pietra, who is suing the school in Brooklyn Supreme Court for failing to protect her identity as a whistle-blower.

“Michael Kalmus, Andersen’s classmate and friend and the attorney who represented Poly in the early stages of this litigation, has, on information and belief, contacted individuals at [headmaster David] Harman’s direction to, at least in part, suggest that they would be better off keeping silent about Andersen and others,” the complaint states. “Given Poly’s apparent lack of interest in engaging with [Della Pietra] in a joint effort to clean house and rebuild Poly, the hardly independent nature of Poly’s ‘investigation,’ and Kalmus’s conduct as ‘investigator,’ including witness intimidation and tactics that were not approved by the full Board, [Della Pietra] has been left with no choice but to file this amended complaint.”

Kalmus confirmed to this paper that he graduated from the prestigious private school the same year as Andersen, but he dismissed the other claims as unsubstantiated smear tactics. He refused to specifically respond to allegations that he used intimidation tactics, because the claims are part of ongoing litigation.

Pietra’s contention that Kalmus and Andersen are close hinges on an article about Andersen posted to the school’s website, wherein a commenter writing under the name Michael Kalmus applauds Andersen for his “dedication and leadership.”

But it’s total bunk, Kalmus said.

“The quote in the complaint that is attributed to me is pure fabrication,” he said.

Attorneys for Della Pietra did not respond to a request for comment.

Reach reporter Max Jaeger at mjaeger@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260–8303. Follow him on Twitter @JustTheMax.

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