A lawsuit by several Jewish families in upstate New York claiming their children were victims of anti-Semitic harassment at school can proceed, a federal court ruled.
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Judge Kenneth Karas of the U.S. District Court in White Plains, N.Y., on Tuesday denied a motion by the Pine Bush Central School District to dismiss the 2012 lawsuit, which also charged school administrators with not doing enough in response to the harassment.
The school district asked the court to dismiss the cases of three of the five children named in the suit, which is seeking unspecified monetary damages. The suit also wants changes made in the district to eliminate the culture of anti-Semitic bias, The New York Jewish Week reported.
Karas wrote in his opinion that a jury could reasonably find that the children had “suffered severe and discriminatory harassment, that the district had actual knowledge of the harassment, and that the district was deliberately indifferent to the harassment,” The New York Times reported.
The district’s superintendent, Joan Carbone, responded to the decision in a statement.
“We are obviously disappointed by this ruling but we will have the opportunity at trial to demonstrate that the District and individual administrators were not indifferent to allegations of anti-Semitism,” she wrote.
Jewish students in the district, which is located 90 miles north of New York City, have complained in recent years of anti-Semitic epithets and nicknames, jokes about the Holocaust, being forced to retrieve coins from dumpsters and physical violence. Fellow students are accused of making Nazi salutes and telling anti-Semitic jokes.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo ordered investigations into the allegations of anti-Semitic harassment.
The lawsuit alleges that the students’ rights were violated by “rampant anti-Semitic discrimination and harassment” and “deliberate indifference” by school officials, according to The New York Times.
The school district said it took the appropriate disciplinary actions and that anti-Semitic behavior is not widespread in the district.