U.S. Sees Sufficient Evidence in Pine Bush Anti-Semitic Bullying Case
By Catherine Behan, Public Justice
The United States filed a brief in federal court on Friday night saying the evidence in Public Justice’s T.E. v Pine Bush Central School District bullying case “is sufficient for a jury to find that the district failed to respond to pervasive anti-Semitic harassment in its schools” by taking required action under a civil rights law.
Federal authorities, through the U.S. Attorney’s office for the Southern District of New York, took the unusual step of informing the court of its views of the case after reviewing evidence. Adele Kimmel, Public Justice Managing Attorney, said she thought the federal government filed the brief “because the case raises important issues involving enforcement of the right of children to learn in an environment free from discriminatory harassment and because evidence of the school district’s failure to uphold this right is so strong.”
“Given the United States’ expertise in interpreting and enforcing these civil rights laws, its views carry great weight in the courts,” she said.
The school district is arguing that the case should be dismissed because, as a matter of law, it took sufficient steps to respond to the bullying victims’ complaints of anti-Semitic harassment.
“Now, not only are the victims disputing this, but the entity responsible for interpreting and enforcing the applicable civil rights laws—the United States government—is saying that the case should go forward based on the evidence,” Kimmel said.
The defendants have filed for partial summary judgment. Plaintiffs have responded and the United States has filed a brief in support of Plaintiffs’ opposition. A hearing on the motion has not been set.
Ilann Maazel of Emery Celli Brinckerhoff & Abady LLC (ECBA) in New York, N.Y. and Michael Meth of Meth Law Offices, P.C., in Chester, N.Y., are co-lead counsel for the plaintiffs. Co-counsel are Andrew Wilson and Zoe Salzman of ECBA and Public Justice’s Managing Attorney Adele Kimmel and Goldberg-Robb Attorney Adrian Alvarez.