Sunday, May 13, 2018

Schneiderman Resigned While Queens Principal Reassigned After Sexual Harassment Lawsuits Totaling $600,000

Mr. Kwait is “one of those guys who I can’t figure why it took so long to remove from his position,” Mr. Tand said. “They seemed to look the other way until given no choice.” In an email sent to the faculty, he called Ms. Prettitore and four other women the “five star lesbian club,” according to the lawsuit. She said the Department of Education did nothing to act on her complaints. That case was settled in September for $130,000.
Mr. Kwait was transferred “to a central office where he will be closely supervised and will no longer be permitted to manage other employees,”  ....NYT
What are they going to? Put a lock on his zipper?


 At the Department of Education, 471 sexual harassment complaints were filed from 2014 to 2017, seven of which were substantiated.... NYT
Whereas, 471 complaints of sexual harassment were filed by employees of the NYC Department of Education between 2013 and 2017 with only seven substantiated; and


Whereas,  before expressing support for the New York City Council’s Stop Sexual Harassment in NYC Act, Mayor Bill de Blasio unfairly attributed 98 percent of sexual harassment complaints to a “hyper-complaint dynamic,”... Excerpt from Resolution passed at UFT Ex Bd, May 7, 2018
The dysfunction of the DOE and the de Blasio administration when it comes to the response to sexual harassment is revealed on these NY Times and NY Post stories.

https://nypost.com/2018/05/11/principal-who-cost-city-830k-in-settlements-reassigned/

https://nypost.com/2018/05/12/department-of-education-protects-serial-harassers-critics/

Leonie Haimson wrote: 
I hope now that NYT has written about this, the Mayor & our new Chancellor will confront the notoriously dysfunctional OSI, DoEs internal investigative office. Instead of claiming as the mayor did that NYC teachers have a “culture” of unwarranted “complaints.” After the new schools chancellor reviewed the suits, Howard Kwait was transferred to an office position where he won’t be “permitted to manage other employees..”
If you don't have the background to the outrageous comments of de Blasio in dismissing reports of sexual harassment in the DOE check out some of Arthur Goldstein's accounts: Executive Board Takeaway May 7, 2018

And Arthur's great speech at the EB meeting which I am reprinting:
Arthur Goldstein—I was shocked that Mayor De Blasio could stand up in front of God and everybody and declare that 98% of teacher sexual harassment complaints are frivolous. I worked for this man. I contributed to his campaign and sat through the freezing cold at his first inauguration.

If you’re a friend of teachers, you don’t stereotype us as whiners. Most teachers are women, and I often think that’s why people like those on the Post editorial board feel so comfortable degrading us. I have a hard time differentiating those who stereotype teachers from garden variety bigots. It’s far more egregious when it’s directed at victims of sexual harassment, who certainly have enough on their minds without being gratuitously ridiculed.

If you are a UFT chapter leader, you know that the investigative agencies can never get anything done in time to follow their own rules, that they convict people on the flimsiest of evidence, and that they defend the city on equally ridiculous evidence. It it’s not them it’s the thirty dollar an hour minds on DOE legal, the ones who know next to nothing about the contract, who decided that 98% of us were cranks. Every single time I have had a dispute with legal, without exception, they have been wrong and UFT has been right. These are the people who fight me twice a year to keep class sizes over the limit, and they muster the audacity to claim they place children first, always. The people who really do that are the ones who wake up to serve these children each and every day, and that would be us.

I certainly hope this was a momentary aberration, and that the mayor will come to his senses. If I were him, I’d not only follow the terms of this resolution to the letter, but I’d also go out of my way to grant a fair family leave policy for those of us who devote our lives toward serving the children of this city.

I urge you to vote for this resolution, and to tell Mayor de Blasio that we stand up for our own, particularly when they’re victimized like this.
Here is the entire NYT article


Queens Principal Reassigned After Sexual Harassment Lawsuits Totaling $600,000

A Queens high school principal accused of sexual harassment and discrimination in multiple lawsuits, which have cost New York City more than $600,000 to settle, has been reassigned.
Howard Kwait, principal of John Bowne High School in Flushing since 2006, was reassigned on Friday after Richard A. Carranza, the newly appointed schools chancellor, reviewed the lawsuits against Mr. Kwait, according to Toya Holness, a Department of Education spokeswoman.
Mr. Kwait was transferred “to a central office where he will be closely supervised and will no longer be permitted to manage other employees,” Ms. Holness said in a statement. “Schools must be safe, welcome and inclusive environments for all students and staff, and we will do everything in our power to hold employees accountable for meeting these standards.”
Mr. Kwait could not be reached for comment.
Mayor Bill de Blasio has come under scrutiny recently for the handling of sexual harassment cases across city agencies, especially at the Department of Education. The city has admitted that it has no consistent system to track sexual harassment complaints against employees, making it difficult to analyze the total number of complaints as well as how employees in substantiated cases were disciplined.

Over all, city agencies settled 32 sexual harassment cases from 2014 to 2017 and paid out $4.7 million, according to data released in April. Over that period, 1,312 sexual harassment complaints were lodged, 221 of which were substantiated.
At the Department of Education, 471 sexual harassment complaints were filed from 2014 to 2017, seven of which were substantiated. In 249 instances — more than half of the Department of Education’s cases over that period — the individual who made the sexual harassment complaint withdrew it. City officials said they could not explain why.
Mr. de Blasio has been outspoken in support of the #MeToo movement, but when asked in April about the number of sexual harassment complaints at the Department of Education, he said the agency suffered from a “hyper complaint dynamic.”
That meant, Mr. de Blasio said, “that on many fronts we get a certain number of complaints that are not real.” Shortly after making those remarks, Mr. de Blasio tried to clarify his statements, saying that those who make complaints deserved to be believed.
“The bottom line is anyone who comes forward will be believed, and we’re going to make sure every complaint is fully investigated,” Mr. de Blasio said on Friday during his weekly appearance with Brian Lehrer on WNYC.
Mr. de Blasio signed a package of 11 bills last week that strengthens harassment protections by requiring annual sexual harassment training at all city agencies; mandating that agencies report sexual harassment data; and extending the statute of limitations on filing a sexual harassment claim to three years after an incident occurs, from the current one-year limit.
Several assistant principals made accusations against Mr. Kwait, who earned $157,000 a year as the principal of John Bowne High.
In one lawsuit, the guidance counselor Lauren Prettitore accused Mr. Kwait of rubbing his body against hers, saying that he would perform oral sex on her if she achieved a high graduation rate and saying that he would like to see her and another female teacher have sex.
In an email sent to the faculty, he called Ms. Prettitore and four other women the “five star lesbian club,” according to the lawsuit. She said the Department of Education did nothing to act on her complaints. That case was settled in September for $130,000.
In June 2015 the city settled two cases against Mr. Kwait for a total of $275,000. In one of the cases, Sally Maya, an assistant principal, accused Mr. Kwait of discriminating against her once she became pregnant. In the other, Maria Catenacci, also an assistant principal, said she was subject to “repeated sexual advances” by Mr. Kwait.
In 2013, the city paid $200,000 to settle a lawsuit from the assistant principal Miriam Zambrano-Lamhaouhi, who accused Mr. Kwait of discriminating against her when she became pregnant.
In a continuing lawsuit, Mr. Kwait is accused of retaliating against Marc Einsohn, also an assistant principal, who questioned Mr. Kwait’s alleged request to inflate student’s grades.

In one lawsuit, the guidance counselor Lauren Prettitore accused Mr. Kwait of rubbing his body against hers, saying that he would perform oral sex on her if she achieved a high graduation rate and saying that he would like to see her and another female teacher have sex.
In an email sent to the faculty, he called Ms. Prettitore and four other women the “five star lesbian club,” according to the lawsuit. She said the Department of Education did nothing to act on her complaints. That case was settled in September for $130,000.
In June 2015 the city settled two cases against Mr. Kwait for a total of $275,000. In one of the cases, Sally Maya, an assistant principal, accused Mr. Kwait of discriminating against her once she became pregnant. In the other, Maria Catenacci, also an assistant principal, said she was subject to “repeated sexual advances” by Mr. Kwait.
In 2013, the city paid $200,000 to settle a lawsuit from the assistant principal Miriam Zambrano-Lamhaouhi, who accused Mr. Kwait of discriminating against her when she became pregnant.
In a continuing lawsuit, Mr. Kwait is accused of retaliating against Marc Einsohn, also an assistant principal, who questioned Mr. Kwait’s alleged request to inflate student’s grades.


Howard Kwait






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