A Shenendehowa Teacher Believes She Was Fired For Speaking to Students About Her Wife

Announcer: It’s PYX106, Quinn & Cantara.

Cantara: It’s Quinn & Cantara, PYX 106. 1-800-LAW-1010, 1800law1010.com. Paul Harding on the horn here from Martin, Harding & Mazzotti.

Quinn: Morning Paul, how are you?

Paul: Good morning, things are great. Good morning.

Quinn: So we saw this story last week. We sat on it for you to get on the show here today. I’ll just read a little bit from the Daily Gazette, a Shen Central school teacher believes school officials tried to fire her for speaking about her wife with students, an accusation the district denies. Tammy Crump has filed notice of claim, reserving her right to sue the school district for around $2 million. The argument is basically like, she thinks that they fired her for having conversations about her same-sex relationship, but she claims conversations that heterosexual teachers have with students all the time. So where do we stand with this Paul?

Paul: Well, you know, these proceedings are privileged, they’re private, so we only know what we hear and what we read in the media and that notice of claim. So here we know that someone cannot be fired for their color, gender, religion, or sexual preference and I think that that is one of those basic constitutional rights that the school district would be absolutely wildly out of their league in terms of trying to fire her for that.

What came out yesterday is that there was a rant that she gave in the classroom that the students of course had their phones and recorded. And the students believe that that’s why she’s being fired. They don’t think it’s because she’s openly gay, they don’t think it’s because she talked about her family. They think it’s because of that rant.

Cantara: So before the rant came out, I would just imagine it’s really tough to prove the motivation of the school district to fire somebody, right?

Paul: Yeah, and teachers really do have a really tough job, you know? I mean, I listened to that recording that the students put out there and I can tell you it wasn’t off the wall at all. She was just sort of angry about something that was in the school newspaper, somebody attacking, sort of, Macbeth and some of the, some of the required reading. And I listened to that and I thought, “Oh no, there’s nothing too wild.” So we’re not sure what’s happening. I have to assume the school district wouldn’t do something like this unless they had something a whole lot more than what we’re hearing.

Quinn: Yeah. Well if you hear the name, the word lesbian, you immediately become a lesbian, Cantara. You know that, right?

Cantara: No, that’s not true.

Quinn: That’s not true? Okay.

Cantara: But hey, Paul, what’s a notice of claim? Like, I reserve the right to sue you?

Paul: Yeah, so when you bring a claim against a municipality, a school district, the state of New York, you have to give them notice. You have to say, “Hey, by the way guys, we’re about to bring a claim against you.” It’s a statutory requirement. So prior to a lawsuit, you have to let them know within 90 days. So it’s got to be quick because they want, in this case, the district to be able to do research as to what the lawsuit is going to be. They don’t want to wait two years and then say, “Wait, we don’t remember this event.”

Quinn, Is that what shows up with the guy who has the gun on his belt when he knocks on your door with the envelope?

Paul: Well, yep. Have you had one of those?

Quinn: Yeah, I remember that.

Cantara: You had that?

Quinn: Yeah, I remember my notice of claim.

Cantara: Really?

Quinn: Yeah, 2010. Yeah.

Cantara: What’s the thing that they’re sneaky about, is that a subpoena?

Paul: Well, anytime you get served anything, right? So what could be served is some complaint, a notice of claim. It could be just some kind of a support order, right? But yeah, they don’t announce. They can just knock on the door and say, “Hey, Amazon,” and then you open the door and they give you personal service. And that’s legal. They can do that. They can trick you into taking it.

Quinn: Hey, Paul, do you need a guy to do that? I feel like I would enjoy that.

Paul: I feel like you’d be good at it.

Quinn: I’d have, like, flowers in one hand and the paperwork in the other.

Cantara: You say that…

Quinn: “Oh, flower delivery…you’ve been served.”

Cantara: They’re not all Quinn behind the door, though. You know what I mean? Like, I’m going to [inaudible 00:03:42] say thank you and then…

Paul: Some rough characters, yeah.

Quinn: So all right, so real quickly, what is this potential claim? Is this just fizzle out, you think?

Paul: Well, so she’s claiming that, you know, “I’m terminated improperly” therefore she’s got her whole pension ahead of her, she’s got all the income that she would earn.

Quinn: She’s an 11th grade teacher?

Cantara: Yeah.

Quinn: That’s 11th grade. That’s almost an adult when you’re in 11th grade, for crying out loud. That’s amazing.

Cantara: Sorry, Paul.

Paul: Yeah. Yep, no, no, and so she’s claiming, “I get fired, these are all my losses.” So that’s how it adds up to that $2 million mark or some version of that. It’s a whole career. So that’s the claim. You know, I know that the union is pretty strong too, so I guess I wouldn’t be super surprised if she just ends up back teaching, and that may be the right decision all the way around.

Quinn: All right, cool. Well we appreciate you explaining all this for us.

Cantara: It’s Paul Harding from Harding…

Quinn: Keep me in mind if you need something served.

Cantara: Yeah. You need a heavy.

Quinn: Seriously, you need a heavy. I’ll show up in the PYX Hummer, too. Real muscle.

Cantara: You back up to the door, be real quiet. It’s Paul Harding from Martin, Harding & Mazzotti, 1-800-LAW-1010, 1800law1010.com. Thank you again, Paul.

Quinn: Thanks, Paul.