New Lebanon, N.Y. teachers allege retaliation


NEW LEBANON, N.Y. -- A federal lawsuit filed on Monday in U.S. District Court in Albany, N.Y., alleges that two former teachers of the Darrow School were let go in retaliation for reporting alleged instances of sexual harassment.

The suit names the Darrow School and its head, Nancy Wolf, as defendants, and it asks for an undisclosed amount of money for lost wages, punitive damages, emotional distress and mental anguish, among other reasons.

According to court filings, Christopher Locke and Lisa Williams, a married couple that taught at the coed college preparatory boarding and day school from 2008 until June 2012, contend they tried to get an administrator to listen to them but nothing was done. Locke and Williams say they reported instances of harassment involving another staff member at the time. No criminal charges ever were filed in the matter.

Instead, Locke and Williams, who were living in campus housing, lost their jobs and their home, the suit contends. In January 2012, they were told their contracts for the next year would not be renewed, but were not given a reason for the termination.

According to court filings, Locke and Williams were experienced and well-regarded teachers at the school.

The couple, both 43, and their two young daughters are now living in New Hampshire with relatives as they look for other teaching positions. They called what happened to them "devastating."

"It's definitely been hard," Locke told The Eagle in a phone conversation on Monday.

"They lost their jobs and their home," said their New York City-based attorney Robert Ottinger. "It doesn't get much worse than that."

Wolf, when contacted by The Eagle, said she was unaware of the lawsuit and couldn't comment. She is set to retire in June 2013.

Locke and Williams said they were pursuing the case in order to protect other teachers and students from having this happen to them.

"We want a jury to hear what happened and decide the outcome," said Williams.


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