A Shenendehowa Central School teacher believes school officials tried to fire her for speaking about her wife with students, an accusation the district denies.
Now, Tammy Crump, of Gansevoort, has filed a notice of claim, reserving her right to sue the district for around $2 million. Her attorney, Kevin Luibrand, said the district's efforts to remove her from her job violate a district policy that allows teachers to talk to students about their families and personal lives.
Crump, who has been with the district for approximately 17 years, teaches American studies and advanced placement language and composition. Crump has, according to the notice of claim, "an unblemished teaching record."
Crump teaches students in grade 11.
Luibrand argued in the notice of claim that Crump was targeted specifically because of her sexuality, saying any heterosexual teacher would be allowed to speak freely about a spouse without facing consequences.
Luibrand also claimed Crump was targeted by the school district as a result of her criticism of some district policies, including grading policies.
According to district spokeswoman Kelly DeFeciani, Crump is still employed by the district and is tenured.
According to the notice of claim, Crump has been suspended from teaching her classes and has been barred from having contact with other district teachers, students or the district's employee union. The district "commenced formal charges to terminate" Crump in early June.
DeFeciani would not comment further on the case, or on what the district's next steps would be. Luibrand could not be reached for comment on Wednesday.
The notice of claim lays out what Crump believes are the reasons the district gave her for seeking to terminate her. They include the fact that she discussed her wife with one or more students in class. She also discussed her father, whom she allegedly described as a "manly man," and the fact that she "could not wait for happy hour."
Crump intends to sue the district for $650,000 in lost income, $33,000 in lost benefits, $500,000 in lost retirement funds, $126,000 in retirement benefits and $600,000 for emotional distress and attorney fees.
Crump's yearly salary at Shen is $73,672, according to a database that lists teacher salaries in New York state.
Shen responded to the notice of claim with a statement to the district community Wednesday morning. The statement emphasized the importance of student, staff and teacher confidentiality, but also disputed Crump's version of events.
"The allegations made in the Notice of Claim are false," school officials said in the prepared statement. "The District has not and would not take any action against someone based on their sexual preference or exercise of free speech. In fact, the district takes tremendous pride in fostering a school environment that is free of bullying, harassment, discrimination and acts of bigotry."