The founder of a Brooklyn Arabic-language school broke down on the witness stand Friday as she accused Mayor Bloomberg of abandoning her after a published report attempted to link her to a controversial Islamic group.
Debbie Almontaser said in the months after 9/11 she had worked with city officials to bridge the gulf between Arabic communities and City Hall.
But when her views were misstated in a newspaper report published weeks before the Khalil Gibran International Academy was set to open, city officials forced her to resign, she said.
"What upset me the most was I knew Mayor Bloomberg, and I couldn't believe he was taking the word of the [New York] Post over my word," Almontaser said through tears.
Almontaser said Schools Chancellor Joel Klein refused her request for a meeting after her comments were published.
Deputy Mayor Dennis Walcott then told her the mayor was expecting her resignation so he could announce it on his radio program, she said. Walcott promised to "take care of me" but never found her another principal's job, she said.
Last month, she reapplied for the principal's job at the academy - a post she held on an interim basis while working to develop the school. Her application was rejected. Her lawyers say the decision was influenced by Klein's bias against her.
Almontaser stepped down after she was quoted defending T-shirts saying "Intifada NYC" that were sold by a Muslim girls group. She said she was asked by a reporter to explain the meaning of intifadeh. She said it means "shaking off oppression" but also said the word had a negative connotation as a result of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.