Long Island teacher sues school for bias

By Advocate.com Editors

Originally published on Advocate.com October 02 2002 12:00 AM ET

A high school teacher has filed a lawsuit against the Long Island, N.Y., district where she works, claiming she was treated unfairly because she is a lesbian. Joan Lovell, an art teacher at Comsewogue High School, said in her complaint that three students falsely accused her of sexual harassment but were never punished. Lovell, 52, charged that three ninth-grade girls who were in danger of failing the class had accused her in February of making sexual advances toward them.

According to court documents, the principal, Joseph Rella, told the students' parents about the allegations but delayed telling Lovell, violating school policy.

Richard Brande, superintendent of Comsewogue schools, said the school investigated the incident and exonerated Lovell but took no action against the students. "You don't want to discourage students from bringing complaints about being harassed by teachers or their peers," he said, according to the Tuesday edition of Newsday.

Lovell, who has worked for the district 28 years, said school administrators failed to look into her claims that students were harassing her by using antigay slurs and whispering about her in school hallways. The three students were transferred out of her class but were never punished, she said.