The teacher whom the Springs School’s own lawyer said was “inappropriately touched” by a school board member a year ago has filed a harassment complaint with the East Hampton Town police.
According to the report, the teacher was present with another employee when the male board member put his hands on her. Details were redacted from the report, but in a previous interview with several current and former staff members, The Independent was told that the board member made a comment about the teacher’s build, placing his hand on her midriff.
The teacher, the redacted police report states, did not press charges at the time, believing that “the Springs School administration would protect her from any further contact” with the male board member. She believed that Superintendent Debra Winter and the school board would take control of the situation. The teacher’s union, the report says, demanded he step down from the board but the board member refused to do so.
The school retained the law firm of Douglas Spencer PLLC to investigate the incident. Its attorney, Regina Carafella, reported in a letter to the teacher, a copy of which The Independent obtained, dated February 27, 2018, which was 15 days after the alleged incident took place, that the board member “did inappropriately grab and/or touch your stomach area, made inappropriate statements in regard to your weight and/or make an inappropriate inquiry into your pregnancy status,” which, Carafella’s report says, “was unquestionably inappropriate.”
One year later, the three men who were on the board at the time of the incident remain in their positions. Winter did not return a phone call from The Independent seeking comment on Monday. The teacher told police she was making the report because, contrary to what she was told after the alleged incident occurred, she has not been warned when the board member in question is in the school, and that she has seen the man “walking past her classroom door.” She told police she is in fear of repercussions for making the report, but that she is “distressed and panicked at work.”
No charges have been filed, at this point.
Springs School is already facing another, unrelated harassment In the workplace charge from a substitute teacher, Diane Mehrhoff. The New York State Division of Human Rights Office of Sexual Harassment Issues has charged that the school board and the superintendent ignored multiple reports from Mehrhoff regarding a male supervisor, and took punitive actions against her after she made her complaint to the state.