Staffing Management

Teacher Alleges Retaliation by School District for Giving Newspaper Interview

By Matt Dunning

Oct. 21, 2011

According to a lawsuit filed Oct. 14 in a Brooklyn federal district court, Rebecca Posteraro, a third-year music teacher at the Bellerose Avenue Elementary School in East Northport, New York, broke her leg on Feb. 15, minutes before the curtain was to rise on the opening night of a school musical she was co-directing. Despite the injury, Posteraro stayed to see her cast through to the end of the show.

During the show, Barbara Falotico, the school’s principal, called an ambulance to take Posteraro to the hospital, but then realized she would have to miss the end of the production, the lawsuit alleges. Agreeing to let Posteraro finish the show, Falotico instructed an emergency operator to forget the request, saying that she would call back later, according to court documents.

The next week, both women were interviewed by a Newsday newspaper reporter about the night’s events. The article, published Feb. 20 and titled “Music Teacher Breaks Leg, Stays for Play,” detailed Posteraro’s efforts to remain on hand during the production in spite of the pain, according to court documents.

When she returned to work eight days later, Posteraro learned that Falotico and Northport-East Northport School District Superintendent Marylou McDermott had decided to deny her tenure because they interpreted the Newsday article as criticism of the school’s “failure to insist on Posteraro being taken immediately to the hospital,” according to court documents.

During the next two months, Posteraro claims in her lawsuit that she was retaliated against repeatedly for giving the interview. Falotico allegedly reprimanded Posteraro personally for talking to the reporter, despite having done so herself, court documents note.

On March 30, Posteraro alleges that she was forced to sign an inaccurate and misleading teacher evaluation. A week later, she discovered that her personnel file had been “pilfered” and that “all of the positive documentation had been removed,” according to court documents. On May 18, a few days before the school’s spring concert, she was told she would be fired at the end of the school year.

Posteraro also claims that another teacher, Izzet Mergen, and Falotico defamed her by telling parents who complained about her firing that they would “understand and agree” with the district’s decision if they “knew all the details,” leaving them to deduce that she had committed a serious infraction.

Calls to McDermott’s office seeking comment were not returned.

Posteraro has asked that the district’s actions be removed from her teaching record and is seeking back pay and additional compensatory damages.

Matt Dunning writes for Business Insurance, a sister publication of Workforce Management. To comment, email editors@workforce.com.

Stay informed and connected. Get human resources news and HR features via Workforce Management’s Twitter feed or RSS feeds for mobile devices and news readers.

Matt Dunning writes for Business Insurance.

About Workforce.com

blog workforce

We build robust scheduling & attendance software for businesses with 500+ frontline workers. With custom BI reporting and demand-driven scheduling, we help our customers reduce labor spend and increase profitability across their business. It's as simple as that.

Book a call
See the software

Related Articles

workforce blog

HR Administration

Rest and lunch break laws in every US state

Summary Federal law does not require meal or rest breaks Some states have laws requiring meal and rest ...

workforce blog

Staffing Management

What is labor forecasting?

Summary Labor forecasting helps businesses determine where, when, what kind, and how many employees are...

demand forecasting, labor forecasting, labor modeling, staffing

workforce blog

Staffing Management

How staffing agencies can better manage a remote workforce

Summary As remote work continues its rise, modern workforce management technology is being adopted – st...

remote employees, scheduling, staffing, time and attendance management