One of Horace Greeley High School’s three assistant principals has filed a racial discrimination lawsuit in federal district court in White Plains against the Chappaqua School District, recently resigned superintendent Dr. Lyn McKay and Principal Robert Rhodes.
Michael Taylor, who has been an assistant principal at the school since 2004 and is the district’s only African-American administrator, charged in the suit that he was unfairly subjected to discipline following a 2013 incident and has been targeted for harassment and retaliation by his superiors. The high school was also named as a defendant.
Taylor seeks a jury trial and compensatory damages for “emotional distress, humiliation, loss of enjoyment of life and other pain and suffering.” He also is pursuing special damages and punitive damages.
According to the litigation that was filed on Nov. 22, the incident that triggered Taylor’s alleged mistreatment occurred on Aug. 6, 2013, when he brought his nine-year-old daughter to work with him. During that day, Taylor had to travel to the Bronx on a personal matter that he thought would take a short amount of time, leaving his daughter unsupervised in his office, the complaint stated. Before he left the school, he notified a school secretary that he needed to run an errand and that the child would be in the office.
Taylor’s suit mentioned that other faculty and staff members have often brought their children to work, since there is no official district policy regulating that practice.
However, the complaint stated that Taylor, who received tenure in 2007, was brought up on disciplinary charges by McKay for leaving his child unattended in his office and faced a 3020a hearing the following March. He was charged with misconduct, conduct unbecoming of an administrator and neglect of duty.
“Plaintiff was treated differently and more severely than other employees of Defendant CCSD and/or Defendant HGHS,” the lawsuit stated. “Other non-minority (or non-African-American) employees who brought their children to work and left them unattended were never admonished or brought up on disciplinary charges.”
The 3020a hearing officer, who is white, told Taylor that he should accept any settlement offer from the district, Taylor claimed in the complaint. He was forced to accept an “unduly punitive settlement,” the suit stated.
The lawsuit also stated that Taylor was not provided secretarial support similar to his Caucasian colleagues, and charges that following the hearing his education-related ideas were increasingly dismissed by his superiors.
Following the filing of a notice of claim against McKay, Rhodes, the school and the district in June 2014, Taylor contended that he was the victim of retaliatory behavior, with his superiors sharply increasing his workload in addition to his regular duties.
“The burden of Plaintiff’s additional work, combined with his original workload, was designed to set him up for failure,” his lawsuit stated. “Defendant CCSD’s hired investigator observed that Plaintiff might quit under the workload.”
Taylor also claimed he was given inadequate office space, was disciplined for hanging his undergarments after he was soaked by “an exploding toilet” in January 2016, was given a critical evaluation last February for failing to retain a long-term substitute math teacher and transmitting transcripts and was denied leave request despite having accumulated 81 days to use.
The suit is the latest controversy that has ensnared the school district. Former Greeley drama teacher Christopher Schraufnagel pleaded guilty to charges over the summer that he engaged in inappropriate activity with several students. McKay resigned as superintendent on Oct. 31 after public pressure was applied.