A social studies teacher in the Ravena-Coeymans-Selkirk Central School District is suing three of his colleagues for $11 million.
Teacher Daniel Pickett claims that school officials and a teacher conspired to get him fired and have ruined his reputation in the community. In doing so, Pickett's lawyer Brendan Baynes says his civil rights under the First, Fourth and 14th amendments were violated. The suit alleges that the three infringed upon Pickett's rights to free speech, due process, and equal protection of the law.
Pickett names RCS Superintendent Vicki Wright, former school board of education president and current member John Bonafide, and middle school teacher Robert Lammly in the suit.
During a telephone interview on Friday, Feb. 29, Baynes said of the defendants, They're being served literally as we speak.
Wright and Bonafide did not return calls for comment on the lawsuit and Lammly declined to comment.
When asked if he were a teacher at RCS, Lammly responded, "It depends on what you're calling about." After confirming he was the teacher named in Pickett's suit and asked for a comment, Lammly said, "I don't have one at this time. Thank you for calling."
Pickett's lawsuit focuses on the three individuals, not the school district. He says he was falsely accused of having an inappropriate relationship with a student, his performance reviews were negatively altered, and he was continually investigated " all in attempts to have him fired for speaking out against the school.
Pickett was hired by RCS in 1989 and is a tenured teacher. He currently teaches at the district's middle school, where he has worked since 2005.
His suit claims he was demoted to teaching the seventh grade, and, after he was cleared of any wrongdoing in several investigations against him, his request to be reinstated in the high school was denied by the school board, which at the time was chaired by Bonafide.