A former teacher working at an Upper East Side middle school says he was fired because he’s gay and supported a bullied student.
According to the New York Post, Robert Halkitis has filed a lawsuit against the Robert F. Wagner Middle School. In the lawsuit, which was filed in the Manhattan federal court on Monday, Halkitis says he suffered two years of harassment from both students and colleagues over his sexual orientation. The harassment included seeing anti-gay slurs written on his bulletin board, hearing a student call him a “f***ing f****t,” and being accused of having sex on school grounds by a colleague.
Unfortunately, that wasn’t the only reason that Halkitis was eventually fired. The former educator says that he also stood up for a “non-binary, gender non-conforming student” that was being bullied. When Halkitis reached out to principal Jennifer RehnLosquadro, he was told she would look into the situation. Halkitis later found out that the bullying was never reported to the Department of Education.
Then this past June, the teacher was told that his contract had been discontinued. Halkitis was confused as he not given a reason for his termination and had positive reviews on his annual teacher assessments. Since being fired, Halkitis has been unable to find a new job. He also alleges that the district superintendent Donalda Chumney directly interfered with another job opportunity by removing his nomination.
The lawsuit against the school states that administrators failed to “take prompt and effective action to stop the harassment.”
“All staff have a right to a working environment free from discrimination,” said Department of Education spokeswoman Miranda Barbot. She says the department is looking into the lawsuit.