CROSS RIVER, N.Y. – A social worker with the Katonah-Lewisboro School District has filed a discrimination lawsuit against the district claiming that school officials engaged in a “pattern and practice of discriminatory, tortuous, and wrongful conduct” against her, according to court documents.
Kristin Peterson, who worked for the district for 15 years, has not been fired, as previously reported. She still remains an employee of the district.
The lawsuit alleges that during a special-education meeting on Sept. 11, 2012, Peterson got into a dispute with district counsel Emily Lucas and was subsequently the subject of retaliation tactics and was suspended on two different occasions.
Peterson is a cancer survivor and has special needs, the lawsuit states, including wearing loose-fitting clothing. The suit alleges that district officials began questioning the appropriateness of Peterson’s attire, which she claims she’d been wearing since 1999 without issue. The suit claims these are violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act.
The suit also alleges that Schools Superintendent Paul Kreutzer exhibited “defamatory behavior” toward Peterson over a series of months and that she was harassed and intimidated by Katonah Elementary School Principal Jessica Godin.
The suit also claims that Connie Hayes, director of special services, “falsely and maliciously accused” Peterson of “manhandling and dragging” a student.
The suit also claims that up until the September 2011 meeting, “Peterson had never been disciplined and no grievance was ever filed against her.”
Hayes, along with Kreutzer, Godin, the Board of Education and the school district, were named as defendants in the suit.
District officials would not comment on the allegations due to pending litigation, but issued a statement that said, “We believe the claim is absolutely without merit.”
The lawsuit does not say how much money Peterson is seeking but does state it seeks to have her record expunged. It also calls for the district to establish an employee training and anti-bullying program to be held at least four times annually.
Hoffman would not comment on the lawsuit, calling it “a very sensitive issue.”